Parents usually expect a lot from themselves. But when the world is changing, parenting is no longer the same as it used to be. How can overwhelmed parents keep their families afloat?
Mind your own needs
Children take emotional cues from parents. When parents calm down, they can help calm family members down. Psychologists call this co-regulation.
Dr. Ginsburg said that during stressful times, it is the job of a parent of young children to "look like a duck sliding on water" to create an atmosphere of safety and comfort. However, teens need to "know what you are doing to stay afloat," he said. "You're showing them how to paddle your feet underwater because you want to help improve their skills."
Classic stress relief products – exercise, deep breathing, spending time in nature, and creative self-expression (art, music, dance, writing) – are helpful. This also applies to safety planning and emergency preparedness. However, some additional stress-reducing behaviors are particularly suitable for climate disasters and quarantine.
looking for connection
Research shows that social isolation is an acute stressor while connection is healing. But while physical distance limits us, we need to find ways to maintain social connections.
Merritt Juliano, Co-President of the Climate Psychology Alliance North America, plans to offer parents free, virtual “Climate Cafes” to exchange a supportive dialogue about the climate emergency. Climate cafés – not just for parents – can be found all over the world. In the pre-Covid era, they were held in cafes or other public spaces. A moderator is usually present to encourage reflection and share thoughts and feelings on the subject of climate change. Ms. Juliano said: “The most important thing parents can do to build resilience is their own inner work around climate change. After processing their emotional responses and accepting the situation, they can remain present with their children. "
Routine and predictability make up for the chaos. "There are so many things we can't do, so it's important to find things that we can do now," said Dr. Bonnie Goldstein, a clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles. "The goal is to have a little more control." Building a daily structure and maintaining routines encourage the nervous system to settle down. As Dr. Ginsburg put it, "We cannot control the outside world, but we can purposely create sanctuaries in our homes."