Coping Techniques for Parents in Isolation.

Cooped-up and explosive? Helping you help your children to manage their emotions while in self-isolation.

We all know what it can be like when a child has an emotional meltdown – and it can happen over the littlest thing – like the toast being cut the wrong way for a toddler or a teenager “losing it” because you’ve asked them to put the technology down and come to the dinner table!

What’s the “emotional climate” at your home right now? Is there more tension than usual?

Close proximity 

Now that we’re all spending way more time together in self-isolation – emotions can be heightened. Sibling rivalry, boredom, children demanding your attention 24/7 when you’re trying to get your work done – all of this can be highly explosive.  

So what can parents do?

Positive reframe

Instead of focussing on the negative emotions between family members and feeling down about the state of affairs in your home right now, how about we put on a pair of rose-coloured glasses and look at the world in a different way – in a more positive light! Can’t hurt to try right? What have you got to lose except for some negativity!

What if we see our self-confinement as an opportunity to teach our kids some key life skills like emotional regulation and conflict management. Not only will it help you to have a calmer home right now, but you can also teach your children valuable skills for life. AND  Bonus….you’ll feel like you’re a great parent too! 

Life skills approach 

In the same way children aren’t born knowing how to read, they aren’t born with the skills to regulate their emotions. So if kids are quite expensive, it’s because they don’t have the knowledge or the skills to self-regulate. How you manage your child’s emotional meltdowns can help their self-regulation.

Have you ever shared with your child how you manage your emotions, how you calm yourself when you’re angry or upset? Have you shared the techniques you use and then practised them with your child?

Calming techniques for kids

Help your child learn to regulate their emotions with practical strategies like:

  1. Focussing on their breath
  2. Counting to up to 10 and then back to 1 SLOWLY!
  3. Walking away and taking a drink of water
  4. Thinking positive thoughts and using calming self-talk (everything will be alright – we can always find a solution to my problem).
  5. Shaking it off! 
  6. Having quiet time throughout the day where kids sit quietly and read a book, listen to music or have simple yoga moves!

The calmer you are

A quick tip for parents! The calmer you are, the more you manage your emotions the calmer your children will be and the better you’ll be able to respond rather than react and escalate the emotions in your home! Practicing mindfulness – can reduce stress and promote better sleep which helps parents to regulate their emotions and speak more calmly and clearly with their children. Win Win!

Over to you. What will you choose?

As a parent we have a choice – to yell, and punish our children for their emotional meltdowns and outbursts, or we can understand that these are difficult times and our children might need a little more help than usual. By taking care of yourself you’ll be in a stronger position to keep your emotions in check. Teaching children how to self-regulate and practising strategies with them from a place of calm – makes for a more peaceful family life – a win for kids and a win for busy working parents in these turbulent and uncertain times.   

Dr Rosina McAlpine is the ToBeMe Early Learning Thought Leader for Curriculum Development and Parenting. She is the CEO and creator of the Win Win Parenting program. As a leading parenting expert, Dr Rosina appears regularly in the media. Dr Rosina has a Masters and PhD in Education and is an internationally recognised, award-winning researcher and educator.

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