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Coronavirus Parenting: Managing Anger and Frustration

We know we’re not supposed to yell at our children. But parents are very stressed at the moment, and frustration and anger are inevitable. Overwhelmed with everything you’ve been asked to do, you find yourself losing your temper at kids who aren’t on their best behavior either. But when your circumstances aren’t normal, your parenting won’t be normal.

Right after many schools and workplaces were closed, there was a push for parents to see the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity, not to waste this extra time with their kids, says Stephanie Lee, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “Parents were encouraged to organize their kids’ closets, work on their math skills, etc., but realistically, that’s just absurd. It’s more important to just get through this and manage the best you can in a less-than-ideal situation.”

It’s time to lower our expectations. You won’t be able to do as much as you usually can as a parent, employee or partner. Instead, experts recommend focusing on your and your children’s emotional state and strive to maintain positive family dynamics.

There are so many parenting struggles at the moment, and staying calm isn’t always easy. Here are ways to manage some of the most challenging issues.

You’re doing a lot of yelling

When you do lose your cool, Michelle Kaplan, LCSW, a clinical social worker at the Child Mind Institute, advises that you wait to apologize until everyone has calmed down. Be honest with your kids and tell them if you’re tired, hungry, struggling or overwhelmed. Apologize for your bad language and let them know you will work hard to do better. You can even involve your kids in some problem solving about what can be done differently next time.

Everyone needs your help at the same time

What parents are being asked to do is impossible, so you need to prioritize. Most importantly, make sure everyone is safe and their basic needs are met. Next, determine what you and your children can realistically accomplish daily, and then try to structure everyone’s days so you’re not overwhelmed. This may mean that each child eats and/or does their schoolwork at different times.

You’re throwing tantrums 

Sharing your mishaps and even finding the humor in them is important, especially right now. But we know it’s our job to model appropriate behavior. When you feel yourself getting upset, take some quiet time to yourself — even if it’s just five minutes in the bathroom.

When you can, it’s also helpful to be proactive about recharging. Scheduling small amounts of time to do things you especially enjoy can be a way to head off your own frustration before it starts. And sometimes you need to ask for help.

Reduce stress by celebrating successes, no matter how small

No matter how someone tries to spin it, this is a difficult time. Even the parents posting color-coded charts and complicated craft projects on social media are struggling. Remind yourself that you’re a good parent who is doing the best you can in a very difficult situation by celebrating the small victories each day.

“Make a daily list of what you did well,” advises Dr. Lee. “Did we all get dressed or half-dressed? Did everyone bathe today? Did we get half of our work done and then go on a family walk? Those are all victories.”

Excerpted from “Coronavirus Parenting: Managing Anger and Frustration” from Child Mind Institute. Read the full article for more advice on these and other challenges.

Source: Child Mind Institute | Coronavirus Parenting: Managing Anger and Frustration, https://childmind.org/article/coronavirus-parenting-managing-anger-and-frustration | © 2021 Child Mind Institute, Inc.
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A screening can help you determine if you or someone you care about should contact a mental health professional. Care Managers can arrange a free 30-minute Care Consultation so you can explore options with an expert. Call or email our Care Managers at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org to set up an initial Consultation appointment.

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