Parenting during lock down: here’s what you need to know

June 14, 2020

Parenting during lock down: here’s what you need to know

As school comes to a close and summer stretches before us, parents face a difficult question: what will I do with my kids? A Nationally Certified Counselor and fellow parent, JF&CS clinician Ula Zusman offers several strategies to help families cope with summer, aka the “s-word”. Currently, concerns surrounding screen time have become a hot topic, with everything from camp to birthday parties taking place online. Although increased screen time is unavoidable, Ula asks parents to consider the function of screen time that kids are utilizing.

Ula Zusman

As she points out, chatting with friends via Messenger Kids is wildly different than mindlessly watching YouTube videos, and should not be dealt the same restrictions. Ula recommends finding ways to transfer things on a screen to real life interactions, encouraging “chopped challenges”, wherein families assign a bizarre ingredient to another family (and vice versa) and swap meals. She also suggests creating a scavenger hunt for another family or designing an online escape room to trade with someone else. This way, parents can get kids to collaborate with each other at home and give them something they can share with friends and stay connected. Ula emphasizes the importance of connecting with others and recommends finding creative ways of doing that, both on and off-screen.

She also advocates developing an “activity menu” with your child that lists their preferred non-screen activities (like crafts, reading, or playing with a pet). While Ula suggests making some activities mandatory, such as chores, kids can select the remaining activities for the day. She recommends picking 4 kinds of activities (kindness, mindfulness, music, and self-care, for example) to create a wide range of activities. Ula suggests asking your child to come up with activities that allow him or her to have a good summer without being online 24/7.

Ula encourages parents to accept the grieving process for missed milestones, but to also set the tone for the summer. Kids do well with structure and information, so it’s up to parents to sit down with their kids and set goals for the summer. Parents and kids can work together to put a plan in place to ensure that the summer is enjoyable despite the challenges. Families can work towards building in family time, learning new skills, connecting with others, and more. Ula recommends creating new rituals for missed graduations and moving up ceremonies and reframing this time as an opportunity rather than a loss. Although camps and internships may be canceled, she advises kids to consider other things they can do, like volunteering or donating to a local food bank. Ula also encourages families to create a scrapbook or photo collage of the summer to document this time.

If you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out. JF&CS has available resources, such as free weekly support groups for parents dealing with difficult issues during this time. There, you can connect with a caring JF&CS clinician and fellow parents. We are here to help.

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