March 17, 2021 6:40:32 pm
By Fatema Agarkar
Parenting comes with its own set of trials and tribulations, and the pandemic appears to have brought out ‘worst-case scenarios’ for some in terms of their relationship with their children. Often, when the variables around them change, which could be emotional, physical or financial, the behaviours exhibited also change dramatically, and these are straining times for families. The change does not have to be monumental, it could even be a minor alteration from the path, but the consequence remains long-lasting.
Parenting must happen in tandem with developmental changes in a child. But often, it remains a strategy or an approach that worked historically, and the anticipation that it will continue to be of use in the future, is a classic error! Owing to coronavirus, bedrooms have become boardrooms and periods of complete isolation is not something that people can understand and cope with. For starters, accepting these are trying times and will continue for the next 15-18 months can help. Accepting that sometimes it will be difficult is how you handle the pressure and find easy solutions.
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If you are angry at your house help or staff, your peer or even your spouse, conversations with raised volume and unpleasant tones are not encouraged. Take a moment to settle those nerves and let there be private words exchanged. Chances are, you will go back and apologise, but the very words uttered may become seeds for anxiety. No child enjoys an unhappy environment, and one with tension makes them unsettled to a point of withdrawal or aggression, when faced with similar pressures.
Private conversations devoid of body language attention are not ideal either, so be mindful. Perhaps taking a walk or a shower, or even watching a funny sitcom or listening to music would be a great way to blow off the steam. You can excuse yourself and have a private conversation; this will work wonders for the family as the anxiety is not expressed overtly.
Structure conversations with clarity
There may be moments you will have to explain yourself to family members and take a moment to reassure them that you are in control. Transferring the fear on to them, or making them anxious means you also have to worry about calming them down and the best solution is to remain consistent with the communication, honest about fearing something and also letting the loved ones know that often, when faced with such challenges, there are also solutions.
Sticking to facts
Remember, poor body language, using inappropriate comments, screaming and tensing up causes nothing but loss of control. It’s best to share your pain or suffering in a way that is normal; do not shy away because you think it will hurt them. Depending on their age group, you can always alter the extent of what you share — little ones do not need gory details and older ones can be saved from this as well by structuring conversations as a friend. Remain calm and stick to stating facts. Act as you would with a friend; leaning on them and reaching out will be less threatening than watching you panic and lose control.
Always follow this up with conversations that are light. Let them know the world comprises moments with different emotions and not everything is long-lasting. It’s what you do as an adult that matters to children, and they want you to be reassured that you are okay, so demonstrate that by being okay!
This world is not devoid of ups and downs, and often when it gets overwhelming, it is best to consult an expert or a professional. They are trained, can guide you, and sometimes it can simply take the pressure off.
Have a confidant
If reaching out to an expert is not something you are comfortable with, ensure you have at least one or two persons to confide in. This could be a peer or a family friend or even another adult in the family that will talk you through your stress so that you do not pass this on to the children.
Maintain a journal. Read articles
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to write down your thoughts. Research has documented writing helps take away the sting. Technology is a stress-buster, when you can read about how others have handled a particular crisis or a situation, and learn from their experience. Be wary of the source though, and ensure these are authentic sites that you are reading.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Fitness and sports are great stress-busters. Getting your body to exercise, cooking or gardening can be super therapeutic. They can instantly put you in a better frame of mind to deal with the problem.
(The writer is an educationist and the founder of ACE)
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