LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Parenting in a pandemic is whole new world for many of us. It’s stressful for adults, it’s also stressful for our kids. If you notice your kids aren’t acting or feeling the way they normally do, it’s important to know how to react to all of the changes.
Margaret Shuster is like many parents right now, she is on double duty. Shuster is a small business owner and a mother of two. She’s been home schooling her six and seven year old daughters.
“Certainly it’s an adventure,” Shuster said. “There is tears and laughter and sort of kind of a roller coaster of emotions.”
Shuster recognizes the impact this “new normal” is having on her kids, especially with her older daughter Lilly.
“She’s not so much sad as she is easily irritable,” Shuster said.
The kids miss their friends, teachers, and that routine they had five days a week. Talking about it, Shuster says has helped.
“Allowing her to fully experience that emotion instead of saying, you shouldn’t feel that way,” Shuster said.
Dr. Katy Hopkins is a Pediatric Psychologist at Norton Children’s Medical Group.
“Common changes that we see when kids are struggling are increased worry, increased need for reassurance and increased clinginess,” Dr. Hopkins said.
Dr. Hopkins says a way we can take care of our kids, is by taking care of ourselves first.
“By modeling calm by modeling good coping that’s really going pave the way for our kids to do the same. “
Dr. Hopkins says an open dialogue with your children is critical as well as offering reassurance, validating their feelings, and help them separate fact from fiction.
“Many parents have the news on all the time and sometimes that may not be appropriate for kids,” Dr. Hopkins said.
Dr. Hopkins says routines are helpful for children. Carve out time for school, play, family, and allow for flexibility. Keep things like bedtime and meals on consistent schedule like they did when they were in school.
“We can expect they are going to be more tearful and irritable understandably,” Dr. Shuster said. “If we can understand that through that context, maybe we can give them a little more flexibility and forgiveness. Because we don’t want to find ourselves yelling more at each other and our kids and feeling like we are constantly discipline them.”
Something a lot of parents have found helpful for their younger kids is to allow them to FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype with their friends or teachers so they can reconnect.
Dr. Hopkins says if your kids are experiencing sudden changes that last for a period of time call your pediatrician.