Coronavirus, Family Challenges and Solutions

Coronavirus, Family Challenges & Solutions

Coronavirus, Family Challenges and Solutions

By Beth Albaneze, CTRS, CPRP, CLP

How do you deal with coronavirus family challenges when both parents are still working their jobs, and at the same time trying to ensure that their children keep up with their schoolwork?

How can families keep up with the school system’s requirements: teacher meetings, recorded class sessions, on-line lesson plans, and supplemental school assignments?

Parents are also saddled with required virtual work meetings; healthcare professionals are busy contacting and diagnosing patients; consultants are making sales calls; therapists are advising clients; and everyone is listening to the daily alerts on COVD19.

Parents have to remain professional. They cannot control the needs of their children, who might be a toddler crying for mommy or daddy to pick them up, and meanwhile another sibling is yelling for you to answer a question, or maybe they are having trouble with the computer, etc.

Coronavirus family challenges continue to increase as schools are closed for the year with no summer options, like camp. What if your child has special needs creating enormous fear for them that translates into behavior issues? Their reaction is understandable due to the fear of the unknown, change in schedule and lack of a familiar professional visiting the family in face-to-face sessions.

One technique is to reframe your thoughts as a tool to view this time differently. The enormous weight on your shoulders is so unpredictable, yet can be translated into a new skill called multi-tasking. Imagine you have created a sense of mindfulness by staying in the present. This time is an opportunity to role play how you would like your children to handle trauma in their adult lives.

Of course all of these suggestions to deal with coronavirus family challenges sound great in theory, but how can a family provide encouragement, set boundaries, and design a routine that is nonstop with no playbook? It is certainly hard for parents to use active listening and intervene when observing inappropriate behavior while involved in a conference call for work.

You hope and pray your family member will not be quarantined at home and become even more isolated. If it happens the angst over not being able to be with them at home or at the hospital will be great.

Another coronavirus family challenge is the risk of getting the virus, which is always a threat. Essential healthcare providers and other business owners are making the ultimate sacrifice to help others. They leave their families to assume the major responsibilities at home.

It is not surprising that another coronavirus family challenge is the experience of fear and uncertainty on a daily basis, which can cause increased anxiety. Parents are constantly aware that they need to send the right messages to their children to mold their beliefs, hopes and confidence for their future.

One answer is to have faith and a sense of purpose. I realize that patience is strained when you and your children witness so much suffering around you with no end in sight. We need to remember that how we convey fear will impact how they handle what is happening to them. If explanations are well thought out, you will already be prepared to listen and provide words that will be the most valuable lesson for future coping. However your behavior will tell the real story.

These stay-at-home requirements can be reframed for turning the isolation into strengthened family rituals. The challenge is to try to find some retreat time, which could simply be a reading time for everyone. Creating shared family duties places the responsibility on everyone to have a role. Virtual socializing with family and friends is a distraction from the mundane. The $64,000 question is how to implement these ideas, of course dependent upon your personal situation. Whatever the circumstance, you have an obligation to stay healthy and be practical in the care of children who also have their special needs.

A huge red flag is when fighting turns into hostility. You must avoid domestic violence. It is important to identify in advance what triggers an individual so you can avoid escalating conflicts. Walking away until someone calms down is advised, as well as having regular professional sessions with a therapist. If you feel more is needed don’t be ashamed to gently advise your loved one to seek out a medication evaluation from a psychiatrist to prevent an episode. Reach out now to a professional who can provide strategies unique to your situation. It is truly a strength to know when you and your family need support.

We understand that children with special needs must have structure and frequent breaks but how do you create that routine when you have no time? Seeking advice will help your family member make adjustments to their typical frustrating routine. If you take the time to praise your children for being respectful, doing their homework, sharing devices willingly, and helping their siblings, the reinforcement will nurture their self esteem.

Technology needs to be monitored as a preventive measure. People can get into excessive gaming, lack boundaries with social media and share information that should be private. Cyberbullying is another major fear so be aware if your child is a victim or a perpetrator. It is important to observe whether there are any changes in behavior like depression, lack of sleep, or too much withdrawal from family. It is a good idea to make sure there are parental restrictions and possibly a public place in the home for using the computer. Establish a clear understanding that the devices in your home belong to you and it is a privilege for them.

A professional can provide virtual services, such as counseling and coaching on how to establish time for yourself; to discuss school issues; how to create a fun night; a fitness program; and other family rituals. Transitioning your special needs children to school needs preparation. Online consultation with a transition specialist will avoid the dilemma of needed accommodations. Creating a parent group can be your time out.

You know for sure that you have time to turn these coronavirus family challenges into a myriad of opportunity for your family to glean suggestions for the future. These insights will either be filled with trauma or be a life changing event. The hope is that you will look back and realize family is truly important to treasure. Be aware when to seek professional help. The hope is you are convinced that reaching out is not a weakness, but a strength. Each family has their dance. All families are similar when it comes to conflict not addressed. Utilize universal recommendations to ease this difficult time.

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