Needed now: 5 coping tips for parents and kids

By Sandy McDaniel

  1. Live in today. Don’t re-live yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. We only have today that we can live in. What can we do with today?
  2. Ask how the other person (child or adult) feels deep down inside. And be quiet when any words are spoken. Listen! Pain is stored in layers, so a person needs to “peel the onion” to get to the truth. If you go to fix it or lecture, the next layers will not be revealed. Be empathetic. Say things like: “That must feel scary” or “I’m sorry that’s hurtful for you.”
  3. Ask for help. Most people come to me when their boat has capsized; ask for guidance when you don’t think it is crucial. Ask for help around the home. Parents are overwhelmed because they are now teachers AND parents. As a teacher I can tell you that most parents were not taught how to get a reluctant student to participate in school or how to do today’s math, and many parents are not bilingual so helping is difficult if not impossible. Make a chart and include all family members in keeping the household going. Trade chore time for outside-of-school media time.
  4. Everyone should participate in family activities. Eat dinner together, play board games, play charades, read a book aloud as a family, draw pictures/write a letter or make a Zoom call to an elderly family member, watch a movie and talk about it, or plan some act of kindness for someone or some other family. (Take them an entire meal that every family member participates in creating.) Or have everyone bring 5 lame jokes to a popcorn meeting.
  5. Deal with your anger. Remember: anger that is not dealt with turns to resentment, resentment that is not dealt with turns to revenge. Having a way to blow off steam is advisable. A punching bag, running in the backyard from fence-to-fence, running in place, acting like a fire-breathing dragon (gets a reluctant child to take deep breaths). Don’t let things go underground; have a weekly family meeting where expressing your thoughts and feelings is safe, and write in a journal. When everyone is miserable, everyone is also explosive – not being defensive or extra-critical is an act of kindness.

For more information, contact Sandy McDaniel at sandy@parentingsos.com

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