One of the most important goals that I have is raising my sons, Andrew and Tyler, who are 6 and 5 respectively. As any parent, I want them to do well in school, experience life, have extracurricular activities, have fun, and have the skills necessary to excel in life. As their father, my job is to support and facilitate these goals. Before the pandemic hit, they were involved in many activities including karate, soccer, and piano.
As we all are dealing with the coronavirus, our job as parents has evolved and has become more intense. Before the pandemic, parents relied on teachers, coaches, or even family members to get involved in helping our kids grow. This responsibility has now been thrust more on the parents. In addition, we are all learning how to deal with this amazing situation. It’s easy to enter into survival mode.
One of the keys to success is to be engaged in our goals. This included being more engaged in our kids' lives, especially during these tough times. It’s easy to relax on our discipline during tough times because, let’s face it, life right now feels like our days are just an endless loop of the same things.
Here are some principles that apply in these times.
- Be positive. Your children watch how you react, and they mimic your behavior. Being positive benefits you and your children. You are the leader of your family and one of the tenets of leadership is that people model the behavior of the people that they look up to.
- Rules and boundaries. Children need rules and boundaries and it’s easy to feel bad for the people that you love most. We may feel bad that our kids cannot go out. Some of us already canceled summer vacations. Activities are cut. It’s easy to feel bad for the kids and let the house be the wild west. Now, structure and discipline are more important. With distance learning, children need more discipline, not less. Examples of this are bedtime, mealtime, screen time, video games, and unstructured play time. This can even be having your kids change clothes when they get up.
- Make family time more meaningful. Now is an amazing time to be intimate with your family. Whether that’s dinner or game night, it can even be having a baking party where you make cookies. Or, you could have breakfast for dinner. You could even have a karaoke night.
- Don’t tolerate bad behavior. In these times, it’s easy to dismiss bad behavior and chalk it up to boredom or justify it as the child being stressed or missing their friends and activities. While this is technically true, it will hurt everybody involved in the future. One of the most dangerous activities is just justifying victimhood.
The goal is to get through this challenging time and simultaneously put your family and kids into a position to succeed.
Parenting during this pandemic is difficult. It is important to lead positively so that your children can follow your example. Keeping them on a schedule and providing structure will allow for better behavior and more meaningful interactions.
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