It’s never easy to be a parent, but it can be especially difficult in times of uncertainty. Certainly, the pandemic qualifies! We all thought surely we’d be past it by now!
Yet the rules and recommendations keep changing—understandable, as science learns more about this still-evolving virus—but frustrating. Online? In-school? Masks on? Masks off? Vaccines yes, no, maybe . . . It is overwhelming and unsettling, and sometimes it may make you want to scream: Just tell us the rules!
Still, our children look to us for cues about how to react to challenging situations, so we’ve got to put aside our own frustrations and show them how to deal with uncertainty.
Modeling calmness and good decision making during uncertain times
Whether you’re angry, frustrated, or at your wit’s end, it’s important to process these emotions in private, because—as you know—kids are like little sponges and will pick up those feelings from you.
On the other hand, they’re also smart and will know we’re hiding something if we pretend otherwise. This can add to their own anxiety.
So, admit to your child that you find the constantly changing guidance confusing as well, but that you’re going to find out all you can about the latest research on why the recommendations have changed. Reassure them that you’re going to make the best decision for them based on the best information available.
Then offer them age-appropriate information about the coronavirus. Explain how masks can help keep them safe, not only from COVID-19 but from other illnesses as well. If you’ve opted to continue homeschooling, tell them why.
Above all, encourage them to ask questions and share their concerns.
And, if your child is old enough, use the continuing uncertainty as a lesson in how to make decisions well:
- Show them where to get reliable facts (hint: not from their friends or social media),
- how to list the pros and cons, and
- how to reach a reasonable conclusion.
This skill will serve your child in every area of their lives, from choosing a college to rejecting drugs and alcohol.
Finally, cut yourself some slack. These are difficult times for everyone so don’t hold yourself to some impossible standard. Remind yourself often you’re doing the best you can.
-Peggy Sapp, CEO & President