There is currently a 40 % increase in parenting matters being initiated in the Family Courts in the context of Covid-19. This reflects the great challenges for parents in navigating this difficult and challenging time. Whether as professionals responding to parents in these circumstances, or parents searching for guidance, we need to understand what is happening for children, and develop strategies for promoting good quality time in the context of uncertainty and the loss of a lot that is familiar and important to them.
I recently had the privilege to discuss this topic wth Rosa Silvestro, a very experienced psychologist, Family Consultant, Family Report Writer, FDRP and Collaborative Practitioner. These are the main ideas and suggestions that came out of our conversation.
Check out the video of my discussion this morning with Rosa Silvestro, sharing her wisdom and knowledge about how children might be feeling in this difficult time. She has great insights into how to support children to cope as best they can, and how to ensure that they remain well connected with all the important people in their lives. Her ideas will be ones that we can readily share with the families we are assisting, and the resources she referred to are listed below.https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/supporting-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/coronavirus-covid-19-guidehttps://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/healthy-parenting
Posted by Creative Family Law Solutions on Tuesday, March 31, 2020
How would a lockdown look like from a child’s perspective?
As a lot that is familiar to children disappears, and there are an ongoing series of changes to their lives, they will experience great uncertainty and loss. This will result in a sense of anxiety and worry as evident in the negative impact on their well-being but also as reflected from the adults around them.
What are the important principles that parents should keep in mind?
Children will look to the adults they are close to for reassurance and guidance. Their parents need to manage their own anxiety and uncertainty, and maintain a tone and presence that is as comforting and positive as possible, as their children will mirror this, and cope with their world accordingly. Parents need to understand what is happening, and what their approach will be, and communicate this to their children in simple, factual, age appropriate and positive language.
How can families work together to promote what children need right now?
Parents need to be clear about the messages they intend to give to children, and ensure that the messages being received from each parent are consistent. This will provide greater reassurance, avoids confusion, and therefore worry and anxiety.
Practices in both households should also be aligned and consistent as much as possible. The parents need to communicate about how they are going to implement the recommended practices, and then follow through with this so that the children understand what is required of them and what they can expect of both parents in these circumstances. The parents also need to be confident of what is happening in the other household.
What are some ideas that parents can implement to ensure that children keep connected with both parents and other important supports in their lives?
In a time of uncertainty for children, it is even more important that they maintain important connections with friends and family. To be cut off from their supporters will only increase their sense of loss, and anxiety. A younger child may start to imagine all sorts of things, which can have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing and mental health. Older children may understand more what is going on, but being cut off from those who are important to them is counter to their basic human need, particularly in these circumstances.
How can you maintain connections when there is no face to face time?
It is vital to stay connected through social media such as FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, phone, email or text. The visual means are more important for younger children who may not get the same benefit from phone or written contact.
This connection should take place on a daily basis where possible, even for a very short time. It works best when it can be incorporated into a part of the daily routine, such as upon getting up, or bedtime, or a particular time during the daily activities. This will then be anticipated and the presence of that important person will be incorporated into the child’s life even though they do not come face to face.
Examples of ways to connect include:
- Reading a story to young children over FaceTime at bedtime
- Playing favourite songs together
- Sharing shows on TV or the computer
- Singing songs or nursery rhymes together
- Reading then discussing the same book, movie
- Checking in about what they are doing and thinking
- Finding some common interest to talk about and develop as the days go by
What if it is not possible to be on the same page as the other parent?
Do not involve the child in any disagreements or differences. Accept that the other parent has a different view, but state simply and clearly what your belief is, and the way it will be in your household.