By Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED, Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant
A famous physician, Dr Viktor Frankl found happiness in Auschwitz because he spent his four years in that prison camp helping fellow prisoners. Meaning and purpose in his life helped him survive near starvation and brutality.
Dr Maxwell Maltz says that how we react to challenges is key to our happiness. “Most people are about as happy as they can make up their minds to be,” said Abraham Lincoln.
The challenges now are huge. How are we responding? We are challenged with how to survive, stay safe and productive amidst the present pandemic. Not to mention dealing with the children at home, and those preparing for exams which have been postponed. Many are affected.
What can we do? How can we cope and nurture our families as we face the collapse of routines and so much uncertainty? HOPE, realising “this too shall pass” and searching for opportunities for good can be our life rings.
Some of us parents are now teachers, playmates, cooks, cleaners and workers. Tensions are high for adults and children alike with fearful or anxious dispositions. Negative emotions can make us and our children very irritable and can lead us to say and do hurtful things.
Our children need our calm confidence more than anything else now. Our thoughts lead to calmness or distress. “As a man thinketh, so is he” (Prov 23:7).
Children feed off our energy. They need to feel safe. Their responses to the sudden lack of routines must be understood by us parents.
They are trying to adapt just like you and they cannot express their feelings with words so they will display all sorts of confusing behaviours: increased tantrums, crying, withdrawal, aggression, bedwetting and obsessing.
Acceptance is key. Resisting the lockdown makes it more stressful. Detachment from our control and will helps, we need to ‘let go’.
For your own well-being, here are a couple suggestions for managing their energy.
Instead of thinking you are going crazy with their lazing around, ignoring your suggestions and squabbling, here is a way to lay down some rules and set limits.
The following language can work magic for some:
The list is endless, you choose how to fill in the blank.
Remember we earn respect and raise the chance of cooperation when we speak respectfully to others, demanding and commanding create resistance.
Offering a choice is the magic.
Instead of “Do the laundry, clean the carpet and wash the car” we can say:
“Would you rather clean the carpet, or wash the car?” or maybe “Would you rather help cook or wash dishes?”
This is a great time for spring cleaning and sorting cupboards we normally have no time for.
Let’s teach our teenagers some life skills, maintaining appliances, car engines, cooking, baking, sewing, gardening. The list is endless. The modern hustle has robbed us of time to do these things with our families but here is the opportunity.
Let’s humbly draw near to Our Helper the Holy Spirit for strength, hope and guidance for what is best for our family and those around us, and may we heed Archbishop Gordon’s advice to make a list of things we are grateful for each day.
Follow Sophie’s parenting approaches drawn from Love and Logic and Positive Discipline on www.sophiesparentingsupport.com, FB and Instagram
Some helpful tips to deal with children’s emotions
If you’re feeling overwhelmed: