No matter where you live, by now, you have most likely observed a stay-at-home order for at least a month. In the wake of this global pandemic, as a parent, you are most likely spending more time with your children than ever before. While maintaining a work-life balance can prove even more challenging for everyone at home, as parents, we have an unprecedented opportunity to develop, sustain, or enhance our relationship with our children. As if parenting wasn’t challenging enough before entering a state of lockdown, families are now faced with added stressors such as home-schooling and minimal outlets for extensive social interaction.
What can parents do to connect with their children during this time and build strong, healthy, meaningful relationships?
1. Encourage your children in all that they do. Strong parent-child relationships are built on the foundation that you are their biggest fans and supporters. Teach them to safely take risks and refrain from constantly saying “be careful.” Instead, teach them why you suggest caution with verbiage such as “is the pavement hard or soft? It would probably be very painful if you slipped and fell?” Support them through frustrations and new tasks by voicing out their strengths and encourage them to take on challenges and difficult and new tasks. Provide your children with freedom but support in the form of “I’m here to help” rather than “do you need help.” Let their curiosity take over and provide them with a safe, encouraging place to learn.
2. Don’t be afraid to show your children your emotions. As noted in a previous article we published in February, children should see that adults experience emotions just as they do. You’ll build a trusting and respectful relationship with your children if they witness how you work through your feelings. Strong parent-child bonds are built on the more fluid notion that we learn and grow together in our relationships. Our current situation may present both children and adults alike with unknown and confusing thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Be real with your children by explaining this to them. You don’t have to have all of the answers. The key to fostering a healthy relationship is to be as appropriately transparent as possible. Honesty builds trust.
3. Smile and make eye contact! So simple yet so incredibly effective. We are balancing the world and trying to multitask like never before. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of responding to bosses or clients, keeping up with homeschooling, checking in on loved ones, and etc. But if there is one thing that will have a detrimental effect on your relationship with your child it would be falling into the vicious trap of the screens. Step away from your computer and put down the cell phone. Make eye contact and smile at your children as much as possible. Reflecting on the previous suggestion regarding emotions, explain to them when you have a time-sensitive task to accomplish, and ask for their understanding. However, do not sacrifice this brief moment to smile and connect with your child when possible.
4. Let them be kids! Don’t expect perfection. Many families are implementing schedules and routines to help keep up with the new normal. Kids are being asked to step up in ways they may not have done before. Still, do not forget that they are children. They are learning and growing and probably confused and possibly scared too! Their innocence, curiosity, and optimistic outlook should not be dulled by the demands we place upon them.
5. Finally, just as we want to make sure we are allowing our kids to be kids, do not forget your role in the relationship. Be the parent. Your role is to be their safe haven, their guiding light, their source of trust. Although playing with your kids is a sure way to build a strong relationship, don’t feel pressured to be their sole entertainer. It is healthy and normal for kids to learn to explore, play, and investigate on their own, provided safety is met. Additionally, remember that while you are taking the temporary place of their teacher, you are not, in fact, the trained educator in their life. Be kind to yourself and be kind to your child as you both learn to navigate home-schooling responsibilities. Remind yourself that this is temporary and if all you can do is be that warm, loving, understanding parent, that is enough.
We’re all in this together, and if as a family, you have found ROYBI a valuable addition to your child’s educational and entertainment guides, please do let us know if you have any questions or suggestions. We’re especially interested in finding solutions on how teachers can integrate AI-powered robots into their classrooms. We would love to hear from you! And remember, we’re all in this together.