Parental Stress & Covid-19

Tips To Alleviate Problems Due To The Pandemic

By Courtney Daly-Pavone September 23, 2020

Are You At Wits End With Your Children & Spouse Home 24/7? 

I know I am. I remind myself daily that we're all okay, and not to complain, but it doesn't diminish the fact that I lost my privacy, space, or ability to concentrate without constant interruptions, or being at my families beck and call which makes me short tempered. After talking to other parents I know I'm not alone. 

I interviewed Dr. Ran D. Anbar, a hypnotherapist who uses pediatric hypnosis and counseling methods to bring about positive change in the physical and mental health of children and adults. We talked about this dilemma facing parents today. 

COURTNEY PAVONE: Right now parents are juggling remote work and distance learning, how can they reduce their stress levels?

DR. RAN ANBAR: Signs that parents are stressed can include feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, or sadness. Parents can also develop difficulty with their sleep or making decisions, or develop stress-related physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or even skin rashes. The basics of stress reduction include eating a healthy diet, exercise, and enough sleep (e.g. at least 7-8 hours/night.) Parents should take time to take care of themselves so that they can feel better when they take of their children. They should find something nice to do for themselves, such as go out on a date, receiving a massage, or even just reading a book for pleasure. Connecting with others, even via Zoom, can be very helpful.

Parents' moods can impact their children's disposition, how can parents remain positive without acting like a Pollyanna?

Remaining positive does not mean assuming that everything will turn out well soon. Parents can help themselves be more positive by focusing on positive things that are occurring because of or in spite of the COVID related hardships. For example, families have been able to spend more time together. Parents and their children have time to develop new hobbies, such as learning to play a musical instrument, investing in the stock market, or creating art. So many families have introduced pets into their homes that pet shelters have emptied!

News about the pandemic, wildfires, and protests can make kids anxious, yet even when you shelter kids they still hear about these events, how can parents explain and calm children about troubling news?

Children can be taught to focus on events they can control, such as their school work, interacting with their friends on-line, or hobbies. Keep in mind the “Serenity Prayer:” God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to tell the difference. For older children, a discussion regarding keeping things in perspective can be helpful. For example, fires clear brush that allow new plants to grow. Protests can lead to wonderful social change. The pandemic teaches us not to take so many things for granted, along with how to focus on the important things in life.

What would you recommend families do as they face the unknown. Ex. My child is looking forward to trick or treating, but it might be cancelled this year. How do you address this without upsetting them?

A good way to proceed when heading into unknown situations is to recognize that you have the resourcefulness to deal with whatever comes our way. For example, if trick or treating is not feasible this year, families can plan an alternative fun event involving lots candy, such as asking riddles for candy prizes, or telling spooky tales around a pretend camp fire.

Are children going to develop OCD from chronic hand washing?

Children do not develop OCD from washing their hands. Further, compulsively washing hands during this time is not a disorder, but rather a behavior that can save lives! For a behavior to rise to the level of a disorder it needs to interfere with one’s life. For example, if a child is unable to stop washing their hands after 20 seconds without developing anxiety this would be suggestive of OCD.

How do you handle being home with your family 24/7, particularly if one parent is strict about social distancing/masks/staying indoors and the other parent is not?

It is important for parents to identify a middle ground about their beliefs so that their children will not be confused, or start manipulating their parents because of differences between them. If a middle ground cannot be achieved the parent who is more lax about rule following should accommodate the stricter parent as much as possible, so as to prevent on-going discomfort and anxiety for the stricter parent.

For More Information Visit: 

Center Point Medicine

3252 Holiday Court, Suite 113, La Jolla, CA 92037

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