We’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately on how we should live and deal with this moment, all the while coping with this “corona virus” that is creating so much havoc not only for society, the economy and the health care system, but also “at home”.
Kids at home. We are talking mainly about families with teenage children and would like to share a few tips on the best ways to deal with them.
Generally speaking, free time with your children “should” be great moments spent together lived in the midst of your family but, in this case, we have one-sided restrictions: schools are closed but most companies aren’t.
As parents we keep on working (also in smart working), all the while having to manage our children’s requests because their normal routine is interrupted. All this can make you feel stressed (don’t underestimate it), exhausted and just plain worn down. If that’s the way you feel, you have every right!
I want to share these tips with you to help you understand how to deal with your children in a different way and how to turn this situation into an asset for your family life.
Staying at home with your children isn’t always as great as the mothers (and ads) try to make us believe on TV and on Facebook (posts with pictures in total relax, beautiful outings to the park, or playing together on the PlayStation…)
The expectations you have on “how to stay together” when your kids are home… everything must be relaxed and wonderful like a fairy-tale family
Expectations are high, but families are imperfect anyway and we have a hard time managing those expectations that we get from the outside world.
We start feeling inadequate, frustrated and stressed and our children feel it. We feel guilty and our children feel it.
These emotions cause us to be stressed and, at times, anguished; chances are that then it “spreads” to our children, turning them into rebels, disrespectful aliens, etc.
Anxiety o anguish
This moment of deep anxiety due to the corona virus or to anything else unknown or the anxiety of not being a good enough parent might cause us to give our children snappy answers. Often the image we have of ourselves as a parent wavers when we are not able to keep everything under control. We, too, become irritable, tired, impatient… and what do we do? Often we take it out on our children or our partner.
Remember: anxiety is contagious but so is calm!
Try asking yourself what kind of anxiety you are having. You might be upset because someone asked you: “why are you letting your son go out?” or “why does your daughter talk to you that way?”
Questions and situations like these can be embarrassing.
We resent them, we are frustrated and angry.
And the question we often ask ourselves is:
“How can I stop feeling like this and spend more happy time with my children?”
What I can tell is: you will never manage to have the control over your children’s behavior. You cannot control what they say, what they do and how they relate to others. Never, but most of all when they are teenagers.
The only thing you can control is your approach and behavior towards your children, this, you can.
To help you understand, here are a few questions to stimulate self-reflection (you know it’s one of the fundamentals of being a parent):
- When I am stressed out, how do I react with my family?
- When I’m afraid that something over which I have no control might happen, what do I do and how do I behave?
- Do I take too much responsibility for other people’s action inside my family?
- What can I do to be calmer and manage the situation, and avoid becoming too anxious or stressed?
Remember: if you manage to stay calm and manage the situation more calmly, your children will react accordingly and be calmer, too.
A FEW USEFUL TIPS TO KEEP CALM AND MANAGE YOUR FAMILY
Keep a routine
Try following a routine or your normal daily procedures as much as possible. Just because today they’re not going to school, there is no need for extreme stimulation or to have them do more things than normal.
It all boils down to the fact that there is nothing to compensate.
Plan your days
This is very important! Yes, they do get up later but household chores must be shared. Support them in creating a schedule for planning everything they must do even if they aren’t going to school.
If gyms and sports plants are shut down, plan some exercise time together. They are not yet capable of mentally managing their time and activities; they need your help for this. Be careful not to offer solutions; instead, ask them what they want to do and how they want to do it. And, most of all, don’t change the rules that you had agreed upon for the use of their PlayStation, phone, etc.
If you are working, talk to them about rules, trust and work as a team. If you must work at the office, and your children are home, have them cook, use the vacuum cleaner or other things they can do since they are less busy than usual.
Use a clear communication
It’s important for you to communicate and be very clear with all family members about what you expect from them while you are all at home.
Explain what you think and perhaps share your opinions about this situation. Often teenagers have social media as their only source of information and have no clear vision of what is going on. Explain your opinion and what you know clearly; avoid creating anxiety because it doesn’t lead to facing these times with a zen attitude.
Bored is good!
Kids today have thousands of things going on! My sons, for example, dance and play soccer and these activities right now are on hold. How can they cope? Why are sports so important? Even being bored is important. Sometimes just slouching on the couch and thinking can be good and there is no need to be forever offering solutions or having to find something to do. What’s more, if you’re stuck at home, there aren’t that many solutions!
We don’t know what’s happening in full detail. We don’t know what’s coming and how to really deal with it. There is no doubt that this uncertainty is real even though it is ever so important to stay positive and offer hope, to our children, too, as we are their role models.
Schools will reopen, things will go back to normal and even though there will be changes, let’s not be disheartened. There will be a reason for everything.
Italy is undergoing its difficult moment but for this, too, there will be a reason. Don’t give up hope. Try to be as cautious as you possibly can and – most of all – stay positive. The entire world has been through so much disruption; all this is a great challenge for us to learn to manage our emotions, our families and ourselves.
Anyway, enjoy and savor these moments with your children. They are almost “grown up”, but they still and always will need you.
Youth Trainer & Family Coach