Before the global coronavirus pandemic came into play earlier this year, parents everywhere were guided by experts to set limits on their child’s screen time each day. However, in a rare twist of fate, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders meant that children and parents were left scrambling with no choice but to rely on virtual technology even more to attend work and school from home every day.
The spread of the novel COVID-19 has forced more closures and stay-at-home orders than we have seen in our lifetime. Most of the news this month quickly inundated us with frightening stories and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is, for many, difficult.
With all of the news and social media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, children may be confused and frightened by what they see and hear. Imaginations run wild on the playground and parents may feel that the topic should remain off-limits to avoid sparking fear in their child more than necessary. But according to The Child Mind Institute, children are actually more fearful when they are kept in the dark.
As parents and educators, our focus is to protect children, to shield them from distress and to create environments that foster their growth and development. While we usually manage to navigate the day-to-day situations and stressors that children face without too much difficulty, we are often at loss when faced with having to talk to children about death. How much do we tell them? Will they be able to understand? Will they get too upset? What if they show no emotion? When do we seek outside support?
As parents and educators, we seek to put our teen’s behaviors, emotions and difficulties into mutually exclusive categories that we can readily understand and, by extension, start the processing of fixing. This assuages our own anxieties about being ineffective in our children’s lives and, replaces that inner parental angst with controllable variables in the form of actionable items and measurable gains. If your teen comes home expressing that nothing in math class is making sense, parents may act in the straightforward response of contacting the teacher or enlisting the help of a tutor, should one not already exist. This is an “easy one” as parenting goes, in that the direction is clear and there is a reasonable expectation that this intervention will fix or at least mitigate the problem.