Parenting In The Age Of COVID-19-Feelings

We’ve been forced to homeschool him and that in itself is a rollercoaster. Last week, Zoom was discovered to have serious security breaches and, in response to that, even though his class didn’t use Zoom, the DOE decided to stop the use of the app his teacher was using to chat with the class daily. Suddenly. As in overnight. So my son went from seeing his teacher and a broad group of friends all day every day to seeing them twice daily via video to not seeing them at all. So that means his social interactions are even more limited.

Lately, I noticed that he cuddles with me more during the day. This might seem cute but the flip-side is an increased attachment to me and heightened sensitivity. He’s been breaking down no fewer than 3 times daily in tears because “your voice says you’re angry with me!!”. I try to explain to him that that’s my firm voice, the same firm voice I have been using for the past 5 years when I’m being stern. But it doesn’t stop the emotional moments. These aren’t meltdowns, though. These are real moments of extreme distress that come on suddenly and disappear just as quickly. So I’ve had to watch my tone with him. I’ve been forced to be softer, gentler, kinder, which is not a bad thing at all in addition to the fact that he’s still 5 and still pushing boundaries and testing limits. My disciplining style is turning into a much more toned down, emotional approach and it’s a learning process but one that seems to be working. Here are some things we have instituted:

  1. He can choose how long he wants me to cuddle with him at night. He usually doesn’t choose more than 15 minutes.
  2. He can gain up to 15 points per day and get rewards (which he calls “scores”) that are a limited range of more popcorn, a sugar-free Zollipop or 5 minutes more of TV/tablet.
  3. He gets to pause his schoolwork during the day as he sees fit.
  4. If he asks me to do something for him, I do it as long as he agrees to do it himself the next day (previously, I was working on him being more independent but I noticed that me doing things for him is his way of being closer to me)
  5. I don’t wait until I get angry to introduce consequences to behavior that’s not working. If it’s not working, the consequence comes. I don’t repeat myself. That way, my tone doesn’t change. It’s still loving but the behavior doesn’t go unchecked.
  6. We eat dinner as a family and we play a game of his choice during dinner.

Each day is a new challenge, especially while we work from home, which I’ll talk more about in a separate post, but we’re getting through it. Being home with him means I’m getting to know him in a different way. It’s challenging but also very delicately beautiful. I’m cherishing this time with him and working on creating special moments for us. This is a very difficult time for all. He doesn’t sit and talk about his feelings at length so it’s up to us to help him express himself and help him find solutions to what’s troubling him. I’m no kid expert so we’re learning together and there is something refreshingly beautiful about that.

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