Parenting during a pandemic is tough. Here’s how to help your kids develop emotional intelligence and resilience.
Families are a system of human beings who are intimately attached and bonded. Family systems are the school in which emotional learning occurs. This includes building resilience in your children.
This pandemic is an opportunity to improve the emotional intelligence in your children, which is more valuable than anything you could ever give them or anything they could ever learn at school.
Right now, parents need to let go of high standards or unrealistic expectations for themselves and their kids and acknowledge that being a parent, in general, is a hard albeit rewarding task.
As a caregiver, your number one motive is to keep your family physically safe and emotionally secure. Frankly, this should always be your number one motive, but it’s especially true during this time of crisis.
Children will explicitly remember the pandemic for the rest of their lives if they are three or older. It’s a formative experience that will shape and inform many aspects of their development.
Like you, children have lost their schedules and in-person playtime with friends. Their little worlds are turned upside-down and they don’t have a template to deal with the emotional fallout the way you do.
You want to make relational and emotional deposits to raise your family’s emotional capital, so your family has the resources to deal with the acute stress that is inevitable during this coronavirus pandemic and other major challenges along the way in life.
How do you do that?
Here are 5 ways you can build your child’s emotional intelligence and resilience during the coronavirus lockdown.
1. Meet their emotional needs.
As a caregiver, you are the child’s “Chief Emotional Officer,” so try to meet their emotional needs and teach them how to manage their emotions.
Cabin fever is real; of course, children are acting out.
When your child feels an emotion, try not to judge it or criticize it. Instead, name, validate, and soothe it with these simple steps:
Let your child name the emotion they’re feeling. You can also help them reflect by by saying, “I see tears. Are you sad or angry?” These are two very common emotions for children that are often denied.
“I hear you’re feeling…” Then, get curious. “What caused you to feel …?” “Tell me more …” “Where do you feel it in your body?”
If necessary, soothe their emotions with empathy.
Read on to know 3 Tips To Help Your Child Navigate Difficult Emotions
An empathic response allows children to know it is safe to express how they feel. This is called “feeling felt” or attuning to your child. Invalidating children’s emotions communicates that it’s not OK for them to be who they are.
Here’s the good news: You only have to attune to your children 30 percent of the time to get good results, so release the need to engage in perfect parenting.
2. Define your family’s core values.
One mental resource you can create as a family is to collaborate on your core values. Values are important to define during this time because everything has been stripped away from you, but you can always come back to your core values.
Values are chosen qualities that the family defines as important and meaningful. This can be honesty, integrity, speaking kindly, and so forth.
Many times families have core values that are implicit and indirectly understood, but your family should explicitly define what your values are. You can do this with younger children more easily than teenagers.
Ask your children, “Who is your hero or heroine? What are the qualities this person has?” This exercise helps children define their values by externalizing; it makes values real for them.
Once your family has defined their core values, they can serve as a map used to navigate those difficult moments throughout this time and build emotional intelligence.