Up Together, a multidisciplinary team, about the challenges of confinement with the family.

" /> Coping in lockdown with kids at home
  • Home
  • Blog
  • News
  • Coping with kids during lockdown
Coping with kids during lockdown

News

28 Apr 2020

Coping with kids during lockdown

We asked Vincent Mandrou, a clinical psychologist and member of Up Together, a multidisciplinary team, about the challenges of confinement with the family. Vincent specialises in treating children and adolescents, and he provides us with valuable insights into how we can approach confinement.

1. How can we encourage a child to do his homework during lockdown? Is it important to maintain a routine?

First of all, it is important to make your children understand that you will have to continuously stay at home together for weeks, and that the usual daily routine is bound to change. Remind them that you need to keep working, and that they need to keep learning. Point out that there are rules and schedules for this new daily routine. Plan the day around your work and the time when the child must be kept busy – playing or doing schoolwork, reading, etc.

Indeed, children need routines to get organised and automate their actions, to understand and comply with rules. It is also reassuring for them to be in the same environment every day. Adults too need routines, especially to help the brain get into action quickly and lower stress levels.

 

2. How can we take time for ourselves without making our children feel that we’ve abandoned them or that we don’t care for them?

It is understandable to feel stress, frustration and guilt. As parents, we blame ourselves for not responding to the child’s demands and for easily getting angry. With regard to work, we feel that we are not doing enough, lagging behind or underperforming.

In the face of these feelings, it is important to contextualise and rationalise: this is an unprecedented and challenging time for both parents and children. Remember that you are doing your best. Most people are facing the same difficulties.

Children need attention, and you risk wasting even more time by constantly pushing them away. On the other hand, if your children know that there is time for them, they will find it easier to accept times when you are not available for them.

It is also important to encourage autonomy:

  • Give them responsibilities and choice between different activities so that they feel involved and take pleasure in doing things on their own. For example, suggest two or three games with a time limit (using an hourglass, stopwatch or timer) so that children can visualise when you will be available again. Ditto for schoolwork.
  • Encourage your children, be patient and tell them that you trust them to succeed.
  • Proceed in stages and use small (age-appropriate) exercises. For younger children, set up a play or work area next to yours in the same room. This will reassure them, increase their time on their own and enable you to keep an eye on them.

3. How can we deal with children’s tantrums when we are all locked up together?

The best solution is to intervene as soon as you feel the early warning signs. In case of crisis, the key message is not to react like a mirror to your child. Remaining calm in front of your child who insults and hits you is far from simple. Your child will try to drag you into his tantrum by shouting, provoking you, following you around the house until you react. Here are some strategies:

  • Apply a time-out: limit interaction with your child by putting him in his room or in another room. If he does not respect this time-out, you can try to close the door by explaining to the child that this time to calm down is necessary. If he still does not respect this time-out, and he knocks on the door, you can enter the room, sit in a chair and pretend to read. Pretend not to see him, pretend to be busy reading something. Children usually hate it when their parents are indifferent to their crisis. Don’t try to negotiate with him. Stay calm.
  • Avoid spreading the crisis to the whole family. Try to ask the other children to go to their rooms or another room. Avoid fighting between adults.
  • If you are two adults at home, consider taking turns assisting the child in crisis. You will usually feel under a lot of pressure yourself.
  • Avoid punishment because the child does not have enough control over his behaviour to avoid crises. Punishment may increase his anger and lower his self-esteem. Favour reparation by allowing your child to repair the material damage he has caused during the crisis. Give your child community service tasks, such as setting the table or vacuuming.

 

4. And how can parents deal with anger and frustration in such crises?

You may have felt anger towards your child, guilt if you lost control over your behaviour during the crisis, but also empathy for your suffering child, or even a sense of discouragement towards your role as a parent. These emotions can also overlap, and you have to accept them. Lockdown is a stressful time for the whole family, but it can also be a good opportunity to do family activities that you don’t have time for during school periods.

 

5. What easy family activity would you recommend to reconnect after a nerve-shredding day under the same roof?

Spend time around an age-appropriate board game. We use a lot of games (Uno, Djenga, Dobble, ...) at our practice to promote interaction with children and they really enjoy it. However, be careful with children who are sore losers; it is better to choose a cartoon or a film that is likely to please the whole family.

Here is a link to more detailed articles on how to cope with confinement according to each person’s issues.

Thanks to Vincent and the Up Together centre, a collective of health professionals based in Saint-Pierre.

Up Together
House No 1, MDA Roundabout
Saint-Pierre
T :
(+230) 434 1313
F :
facebook.com/pg/uptogethermauritius/