How parents can help children cope during the COVID-19 emergency

The COVID-19 emergency pandemic has rapidly developed into an unprecedented global health emergency. Everything has changed so fast and it has taken almost all of us by surprise. 

Children and parents’ lives are being turned upside down and many of us are experiencing an emergency for the first time in our lives 

Emergencies are often caused by natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, or by conflict. And whatever the cause, living through an emergency can significantly impact children’s well-being and development. However, children can and do learn to adapt, and parents can help them cope and build resilience in times of emergency.   

Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’. It means doing well against the odds, coping, and recovering. To support parents, UNICEF has teamed up with the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative to bring parents and caregivers a set of handy tips to help manage this new (temporary) normal.   

1. One-on-one time

We’re all living through unprecedented timesSo many parents across Ireland are now facing job uncertainty, trying to juggle working from home, and rapidly trying to help their children continue their education. It’s totally normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed. 

But amid the uncertainty about the future, there’s also a chance now to spend more one-to-one time with our children and teenagers – potentially building better and closer relationships. One-on-One time is free and fun. It makes children feel loved and secure and shows them, that despite everything going on, we are there for them and they are uniquely important to us. 

For more on how you can take get the most from one-to-one time download these tips [PDF format] for children of all ages – from toddlers to younger children and even up to teenagers.  

 

2. Keeping our relationships positive 

Sometimes it can be hard to feel positive when you’ve shouted, “Stop doing that!” for the three hundredth time, or you’ve tripped over the item you just put back in the press, or you’ve been unable to coax your teenager away from their phone for what seems like weeks. But children of all ages are much more likely to work with us when we stay positive and show them our appreciation.  

There are some simple tips we can try and remember: 

 

 

3. Get structured

The coronavirus pandemic has turned everyone’s worlds upside down. This is hard on all of us – from the very smallest to the very biggest.  

Try and do what you can to make some new routines on the go.  

 

4. Bad behaviour

There’s always going to be behaviour that you find challenging. It is normal when children are tired, hungry, afraid, or learning independence. We all know that but it still doesn’t always help us avoid being driven crazy when we are stuck at home. These handy tips can help us navigate these choppy waters:  

  1. Give your child a choice to follow your instruction before giving them the consequence. 
  2. Try to stay calm when giving the consequence. 
  3. Make sure you can follow through with the consequence. For example, banning TV for two weeks is hard to enforce. 
    Going for a couple of nights is more realistic.  
  4. Once the consequence is over, give your child a chance to do something good, and praise them for it. 
    
    
    

5. Keep calm and manage stress

Now, this is one you shouldn’t forget... Remember to take care of yourself! 

This will help you cope, and it will mean you are better able to support your children 

This a very difficult time for everyone and these useful tips can help you keep yourself well throughout everything.