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How has Parenting Changed During the Global Pandemic?

Written by: Karen Gibson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

The way we parented prior to the pandemic is no longer effective. Harsh discipline, critical comments, and lacking empathy may be causing serious mental health issues in children since the pandemic turned our world upside down. As an educator for 27 years, I’ve witnessed a drastic change in our children’s behavior. Their attitude towards education, social media, and worrying about their future has caused many parents to be concerned about their children’s mental health. An increase in anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and suicide risk, in addition to the New Normal in education, has changed the way we raise our children.

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Instead of taking away privileges, lecturing, or engaging in harsh discipline, parents realize that their top priority shouldn’t be based on grades. Ensuring their child’s mental, emotional and physical health comes before many mental health professionals emphasize their academic achievements.


As a parent coach of Letting Go with Aloha, I published “One Hundred Parenting Tips Inspired by the Pandemic” in March 2021. I initially had planned to record daily tips for a few weeks before school starting last fall. After receiving endless questions from parents on handling issues from distance learning, oppositional behavior to establishing bedtime/morning routines, I decided to record 100 daily tips, which were also on Instagram Live and Facebook videos. I started a mom support group, “Stressed Mom Support Group by a Hawaii Mom,” to help moms who felt they were losing their sanity.


Children of all ages were riding an emotional rollercoaster, frustrated one moment from technical challenges on top of academic challenges, then bored the next having to watch endless videos or stare at their laptop, having difficulty focusing on topics they found useless. Some of my students refused to turn on their cameras, saying it was a waste of time. Others failed to log on or complete homework because of overwhelming stress. Some children questioned whether distance learning would ever end and expressed extreme disappointment at the lack of social interaction. Others shared that they felt the entire fourth quarter of Spring 2020 was a blur. They couldn’t recall anything they learned and were worried that they would be forever behind academically.


On top of academic concerns, many parents were frustrated with being their child’s teacher as children had to remain at home while being educated in the challenging world of the virtual classroom. Internet issues, difficulty logging on or uploading assignments, and navigating their new educational environment caused many honor roll students to witness their grades drastically dropping. Parents were stressed, lacking patience and empathy while their children faced unexpected mental health issues. The pandemic not only forever changed our lifestyle, but it also caused many of us to panic. We were glued to the news witnessing Covid-19 cases resulting in 166 million cases worldwide (as of May 21, 2021) and 3.45 million deaths.


When our health is compromised, being on the honor roll and earning A’s is no longer a top priority. Yet, many parents panicked, wondering about their children’s future. My 1 parenting tip had nothing to do with motivating your child (although it’s one of the one hundred tips) but nurturing and cultivating a relationship with your child. Loving your children with commitment and unconditional love is the greatest legacy you can leave. Sharing childhood stories, sharing your struggles, and the demons you encountered as a teen will enable your children to cherish the lessons you’ve learned.


Releasing the need to control your child’s behavior and decisions will decrease your child’s stress. Practicing being calmer than your child in the midst of a heated battle will increase cooperation and decrease conflict. Responding with patience is easier when you’re in a calm mental state. Taking the time to teach your child the importance of meditation, surrendering the constant mental chatter. When families incorporate meditation in their daily routine, they cultivate empathy, improve active listening skills, and enhance healthier emotional connections. The power of deep breathing and spending just 20 minutes (preferably twice a day) being quiet and emptying our minds is life-changing. Stress and worries magically melt away. Being present leads to emotional and mental strength, much like our bodies' physical strength gain from regular exercise.


Learning how to apologize to your children will greatly impact your child’s future happiness than earning high grades and getting a scholarship to their dream college. Spending 24/7 with our children took a toll on our mental health. Parents realized the importance of having time away from their children impacted their emotional state. I once saw a t-shirt with the saying, “I can’t miss you if you don’t leave.” This quote seemed hilarious but also very true. Parents love their children with their hearts and souls, but we all experience that moment of frustration. I felt guilty thinking that I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as my child. Why do I feel intense irritation at my flesh and blood? My therapist, my naturopath, acupuncturist, and life coach all comforted me. Apparently, it’s natural sometimes to detest your children. During the global pandemic, where many of us were quarantined, families experienced way more family time than they ever desired. Fears of “How long will this last? Will our marriage survive? Why have my children transformed into mini demons?”


Learning how to deal with attitudes in a constructive way, teaching your child how to overcome hardships, empowering them with the gift of patience, and asking yourself questions before interacting with your children are some of the tips I share in my book, “One Hundred Parenting Tips Inspired by the Pandemic.” If there’s one thing I suggest to parents concerned about whether their children will gain the academic knowledge they need and earn the high grades they believe are required for their child’s future success, there is only one secret ingredient for a child to succeed. All children crave unconditional love and a nurturing environment. Oppositional defiant teens yearn to be heard and understood without judgment. Unconditional love can be as simple as saying, “I love you no matter what!” If your child fails a test or falls behind on their assignments, makes poor decisions, or disrespects you, remind them that you will never judge them.


A deep conversation to discover the reasons behind their behavior will be much more beneficial than taking away privileges. There’s a difference between discipline and sending a message to a child that they aren’t good enough. Hearing, “I still love you even if you failed a test, disrespected me...” can make the difference between a child feeling loved and supported and feeling like a rejected outcast.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more info!

 

Karen Gibson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Karen is the founder of "Letting Go with Aloha," offering coaching for overwhelmed parents and those in parenting roles who want to parent with peace instead of pain. As a former special education teacher, she also founded Brain Builders, a private tutoring business whose mission is to enhance students' mental and emotional potential. She is the author of "Mama's Gotta Let Go: How to Let Go Without Losing Your Sanity,” available on Amazon, as well as “100 Parenting Tips Inspired by the Pandemic,” published in March 2021 by Balboa Press.

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