We are past the period when the newly-discovered experience of being locked down within our homes seemed fun. The limitless time to relax, watch TV, sleep and everything else we always whined about or the leisure enabling us to talk to our children, interact with our neglected elderly parents, work out, pursue our hobbies looked like a privilege only for the first few days. We felt sick of staying within the same walls and seeing the same faces sooner than we had expected.
When we, despite understanding the importance of the lockdown and the social-distancing norms to curb the spread of the pandemic, could get sick of the monotony that has inadvertently fallen upon us, we can’t overlook the misery of our children. The energetic youngsters who are always restless, curious and love to explore fun, are made to stay indoors. They are bound to feel like ‘caged’ birds however sensible they may be. They can’t go out to play or hang-out with friends whereas their virtual studies are going on. This does drain them out in the absence of inadequate means of recreation and diversion. Children have nothing to balance their enthusiasm and the pent-up energy runs the risk of transforming into another epidemic of idleness. It is even more difficult for the parents if the child is hyperactive. Despite the best of intentions, online classes cannot bring in the needed discipline, sincerity, punctuality and effectiveness. Direct interactions between the teacher and the student are essential for productive teaching and fruitful learning. Lockdown is more testing for our young children more than us. Hence, the demands and the role of parenting has taken a whole new meaning in the times of lockdown.
Now that, the lockdown has erased the boundaries between the scholastic, social and domestic circles of our kids, the onus of ensuring that the terrible constraint doesn’t distress them, lies on parents. Here are some suggestions:
Reprimanding, scolding kids about their messy rooms or study-corners?
Make a policy that you don’t comment on their habits – no matter howdifficult it gets. If at all you feel the urge to point out, say it calmly without unleashing your temper. Choose your words carefully. Children have delicate self-esteem and it gets fragile when they are forbidden to do what they want.
Debating about the time-table?
Don’t be stringent about their schedule and mind your own. Don’t fume about the time they wake up, bathe or sleep. Let them choose their way of doing their chores during covidcaptivity. If you are worried that indiscipline would spoil them, chillax and let them realize that. Everything will fall in place as soon as life comes back to the track.
Are they always glued to their phones and gadgets?
This is indeed worrying but your grumbling won’t mend their ways. Due to the online classes, they always have their studies as an excuse. What’s the remedy then? You may fix an hour as ‘Family-Time’. Sit together and talk. Play some non-digital games together. Narrate stories of your childhood. Tell them about their infantile days.Ask their views about the pandemic, about the steps government has taken, about the life after the lockdown and their learning from this experience. Such discussions would help them in the future.
Encourage them to spend some time on their hobbies
You must be aware of your children’s vocational studies. You must make them realise that they won’t get a better time than the lockdown for honing their skills and must encourage them to spare some time on upgrading and polishing their skills. Not only discussions but a sincere follow-up would not only keep the flame of inspiration alive in them but also, help you to understand their psyche and personality better.
Motivate them to learn cooking
Cooking is mandatory and should not be a matter of interest. Every mortal must know how to deal with hunger and the least we can do in this regard is to make our children capable enough to take care of their meals in the hour of need. I personally feel sorry for those children who can prepare only the famous ‘two-minute-meal’.
Do you pour out your irritation on your children?
Don’t spit out your irritation even if you are bored with their juvenile conversation. You can’t expect them to rise to your level with their scant experience of life. However, you, having seen through the age they are in, should know what they would love to talk about.
Children are as exasperated as you are or maybe more than you are. So, hold on your anger. A face-off with your children would be the last thing you should expect in these difficult times. The younger and immature members of the family must not be a medium for you to vent out your frustration. If you somehow lose your temper, quickly apologize before things turn ugly. Don’t let the ego of age and relation spoil the peace. You and everyone else in your family need it. Do not start an argument and if someone drags you in one, don’t allow it to stretch too far.
Nobody likes lectures
Don’t preach every time you sit with your children about studies, about too much use of phone, about their conduct et al.
Your constant criticism cannot go down well and send out the intended message. Assess and judge the situation to say what you don’t like and send it across in a harmonious manner. No harm in being a little diplomatic even with your children.
Allow some ‘Me-time’ to your children and have some yourself
Don’t feel jittery if your children sit alone in their rooms. Don’t spy on them. Each one of us needs some time with ourselves. However, they should not do it excessively. Call them on some pretext and engage them with you but don’t barge into their room and encroach upon their privacy. Do take some me-time yourself. Meditate, interact with your friends, make your presence felt on social-media if you feel like or do anything you derive pleasure doing.
Know who your children’s friends are
Knowing your children’s friends is as important as knowing your children. Time-famine has always handicapped us to take care of only a few vital aspects of parenting and we often ignore the details and family background of our children’s friends. This lockdown has allowed us enough time to attend to this important task. Teenagers love to talk about their friends and the fun they have in the classroom. Be their friend and learn about who and why they like the most. What do they think about every individual? If they dislike someone, ask them the reason gently and don’t force them if they don’t want to share. Children often exaggerate when they describe their friends or the stories of their outings with them. Give them the impression that you believe them even if you find them unconvincing.
Parenting is always a full-time job and during lockdown it has become even more demanding and taxing. Not only small kids, but teenagers, adolescents and even the college-going youngsters get irritated easily because of the shackles of the lockdown. Often, parents have to bear the brunt of their mood swings and unfounded anger. This is wrong in every circumstance. However, captivity due to pandemic has complicated the existing mental health conditions. Parents do understand their kids, but they are not mental health experts to instantly know the stigmas of minds fun to heightened anxieties.
Special times require special measures. We cannot be the usual raging, fuming dads and grumbling, carping moms in the time of the lockdown. This is the first instance for us and our children too when we are spending the longest time together after they have grown up and have begun to understand their individuality. We need to be careful. Our love affair with our children is precious to us. We can’t be casual.
One thing our children are missing at the time of lockdown is the company of their friends. They do need their parents but not all the time. They crave to be with their buddies. The parents must play the role of their friends. Believe me, that is not childish but maturity.