We’re officially in the home stretch of 2020? How have you been coping? This year has been particularly challenging for many parents: tasked with working (increasingly long) hours from home, maintaining an (increasingly messy) house 24-7, and perhaps playing teacher to their children as well.

You might have noticed your child “acting out” more often than usual. They’re likely feeling the effects of the pandemic, cooped up at home and cut off from their friends. The isolation may not cause permanent damage, but it’s certainly taking a short-term toll on kids and parents alike.

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As a parent, it’s your job to look out for your children’s mental and emotional wellbeing—which, by the way, requires you to meet their needs, not be a superhero. Here are 7 ways you can support your kid:

1. Give them the 411.

If you have very young children, you may not have talked to them yet about COVID-19. Make sure you do as it becomes developmentally appropriate. Kids need to know why they have to wash their hands for 20 seconds, or wear a mask, or stay 6 feet apart from others. If you have older kids, be sure to explain how you’ve come to your decisions about everything from school to slumber parties. We’re all making calculations to keep our children safe; be sure your kid understands your family’s math.

2. Add or maintain structure.

Simple routines add structure, and structure makes kids (and adults) feel safe. They know what to expect. Try setting times for waking up, eating, studying, and doing chores. Assign tasks around the house. Differentiate the weekends from the weekdays. Make sure to build in some free time so kids can assert their independence by controlling their own activities.

3. Set attainable goals.

It’s far better to achieve and celebrate small wins than to undermine a child’s confidence by setting impossible goals. Being able to complete smaller tasks, such as changing out of pajamas or taking a quick walk every day, will help them feel accomplished and self-assured.

4. Offer freedom to explore.

Let your children discover and explore their own unique interests. Allow them to find self-expression in whatever pursuit they choose: be it playing with LEGOs, learning about dinosaurs, or aspiring to be the next Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. Broadening your mind and expanding your creativity is something not even a pandemic can take away.

5. Let them cry it out.

Who doesn’t feel like yelling or bursting into tears these days? Give your child space to grieve and process their emotions. When they’re ready, ask what’s really bothering them. Do they miss seeing their friends? Are they feeling afraid or insecure about the world? Acknowledge that your child is a human being with complex emotions, and let them express those emotions without rushing to a solution.

6. Stay connected.

We all need a support system. Schedule Zoom or Facetime calls with grandparents or friends. Build in quality time for your family to be together beyond rushing past one another during the work/school day. It will help everyone feel less isolated.

7. Give them their own space.

Finally, carve out a special place just for your child. It doesn’t have to be an entire room; a small nook in your kitchen or office area will do. Giving kids room to breathe, physically, mentally, and emotionally, gives them space to grow and learn.

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The last several months have been difficult for all of us, and it’s of the utmost importance that we find healthy ways to cope. Remember that you need support, too! To connect with a group of a thriving community of fellow parents, be sure to follow the Conscious Parenting Revolution on Facebook.

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