The number one thing parents should be doing to ensure their kid’s well-being in the middle of a pandemic might surprise you.
The answer is simply to take care of yourself. You might remember the old analogy of the airplane where you have to put on your oxygen mask before you can take care of your kids. Since the pandemic started, depression and anxiety rates have skyrocketed and now two out of every five adults say that they are feeling increased levels of depression/anxiety to a place where it’s affecting their ability to operate day-to-day
An author named Sarah Waters who is a Trauma Specialist says that the ability to manage our own discomfort is the number one factor that will determine our kid’s experience of 2020. We have these things called mirror neurons which “mirror” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. That means our children are getting far more information about their surroundings by watching us rather than by what we say to them.
Even kids who have not yet learned a language, even babies and toddlers, will pick up on our distress because kids hear us then they watch our facial expressions when we’re on a call. They watch us as we respond to an email or post on social media and they really pick up on whether we’re relaxed or stressed. They will absorb and experience what we feel at a far greater rate than by what we say. In fact, what we say almost doesn’t matter in comparison to the way we present ourselves around our kids. One of the most important things we could do is get comfortable with giving a very authentic, “I don’t know”. When your kids ask you, “well, what about this? And what about this?”, sometimes the best thing to say is, “I don’t know, but I know I’ll take care of you no matter what. And I know you don’t ever have to worry because that I’m doing this, this and this.” This is definitely something to think about as we continue to navigate this weird new world.