Imagine being stuck at home 24 hours, your routine turned upside-down, you’re working from home, preparing that crucial report which is due in 2 hours. Your kid comes up to you
Can we play?
“No,” you tell them. A tantrum ensues. You feel your temper rising and you end up yelling at them.
Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. As a working parent during this COVID-19 induced lockdown, you might’ve already encountered this situation a few times. As if the worry of our child’s wellbeing wasn’t enough, we also need to bury that worry and make sure that we do justice to our duty as parents in these peculiar circumstances. But how? We asked our Experts this very same question. The unanimous response was “Follow the 5 C’s”.
Let’s discuss these in the scenario of your child disturbing you in the middle of your work:
To be stuck at home, with no friends to play, no school to attend, and no outlet for all that energy, these are difficult times for kids as well. Right now, they deserve kindness. No matter what you do, your child must know and sense that you’re doing it from a place of acceptance and love. Eg. When they disturb you in the middle of your work, tell them
I love you but this is not the right behaviour. As you can see I was busy in work and you disturbed me
When you’re compassionate with your children, they tend to feel safe. When children feel safe, they are more prepared to learn.
When your child comes to you asking you to play with them or talk to them, particularly when you’re working, give them a choice, eg.
We can either play now for 15 mins as I have very important work to finish, or we can play for an hour when I’m done with work
Providing your child with choices allows them not just to practice decision making, but also build a sense of autonomy and growing independence
It’s important to apply appropriate consequences to your child’s choices. Eg. If your child disturbs your work a few times, the consequence doesn’t need to be negative. Give them a choice as discussed earlier and the decision they take will take care of the consequence too. However, if they keep disturbing you everyday and don’t learn, you may want to be a bit stricter and take away their TV watching privileges for 2 days.
This way, they’ll understand that their choices will have an outcome and they need to take responsibility for the choices they make, and learn accordingly.
Provide your child with a stable environment. If you promised something when you gave them a choice, follow through with it. If you admonish them as a consequence of any behaviour, make sure that you practice what you preach and don’t indulge in the same behaviour. Eg. If you expect your child not to disturb you when working, it’s fair that you don’t disturb them when they’re studying unless they need your help, no matter how young they are
This will help your child learn that when you say something, you mean it, which directly translates into you repeating yourself far less.
A lot of us tend to take on the heavy responsibility of planning our children’s day to make sure that they stay occupied in a constructive manner. This can get very overwhelming in the context of a lockdown when you might easily run out of things to keep them busy with. Instead, why not give them the agency to plan their day/week? You can give them suggestions for activities to add to their schedules, including age-appropriate chores. For eg. they can help in peeling peas, or dusting the coffee table, etc.
This will help them develop planning skills and a curiosity for chores, all of which will further help them become independent and confident individuals as they grow up.
These are difficult times but you might also never get another opportunity to spend so much time with your kid(s) ever again. So, make the most of it.
No one is born with the knowledge of how to be the best parent. So it’s perfectly ok if you seek some external guidance for the same.
Also, please make sure that in the midst of all this, you don’t forget to take care of yourselves too. So if things are getting a bit overwhelming connect with an Expert today.