By LOYLA LOUVIS
For Montclair Local

In “Mother Matters,” parenting and life coach Loyla Louvis, AACC, provides parenting tips.

LOYLA LOUVIS
LOYLA LOUVIS
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She is dedicated to eliminating frustration in the parenting journey by customizing solutions to fit the uniqueness of each family. A mother of four children, she is experienced with single parenting, remarriage, home education, mentoring, and teaching. Louvis runs Mothers in Training, LLC, and is a certified professional parenting consultant/coach. More info can be found at Mothersintraining.org.

 

Golden rays of sunshine gleam through a kitchen bay window as Mother serves breakfast to a sleepy child. The day begins like any other, and yet nothing could be further from the truth. This morning feels strangely unfamiliar as news of a spreading virus leaves everyone feeling unsettled on this beautiful spring day.

As breaking news provides more information, one cannot help but wonder how long this crisis will last and what impact it will have on families. School closures and schedules now in the hands of parents leave Mom wondering how to explain what is happening to a confused and anxious child.

How should a mother talk to her child about the coronavirus? How will she explain being homebound and stockpiling the pantry with food supplies? What is the school day going to look like now that the class schedules are in her hands? The right response will regulate family emotions and create confidence for the days ahead.

With a child’s questions about the quarantine in view, let us consider the following: 

Keep it simple. Less is more. There is no need to go into great detail about what is going on in the world. Mom might boil her response to questions down to its purest form and follow her child’s lead. If he or she asks for more information, give only as much as needed to quell a curious child’s questions. Little ones will likely be satisfied with fewer details than one might expect.

Tell the truth. Honesty is the best policy. There is no need to lie to a child. Mom might answer questions by saying, “Some people are getting sick with something like the flu, and doctors don’t have a cure yet. But while we wait, there is much we can do to stay well!” Getting through tough times together with honesty creates a stronger family bond than creating an alternative reality for a child.

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READ: MOTHER MATTERS: TAKING THE LEAD FROM NATURE

READ: GARDENING FOR LIFE: DURING THE TIME OF COVID-19

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Explain good hygiene. Cleanliness is a good habit. Now is the perfect time to reinforce proper self-care. Mom might explain, “Tommy, you can safeguard against the spread of illness by washing your hands for 20 seconds with foam soap, getting underneath the fingernail beds and washing between fingers. Sneeze and cough into your arm, and use hand sanitizer after touching things that are accessible to the public.” Practicing good hygiene now will benefit the family for years to come.

Create a routine. The brain craves patterns and predictability in times of uncertainty. By mapping out a daily sequence of activities, a sense of normalcy ensues that regulates emotions. New routines become fun when a mother and child work together to create a schedule, which includes academics, art, physical activity, house chores, and personal responsibilities. When everyone knows what to do throughout the day, a child can move about with clarity and confidence.

Model calm leadership. Gentle strength anchors the family. Be mindful of non-verbal cues. A child is sensitive to body language, facial expressions, and the vocal tones of a parent. Mom can model calm, assertive leadership by relaxing her body’s tension, being aware of her facial expressions, and using a gentle tone of voice. Also noteworthy, as a mother becomes intentional about guarding her thoughts, she is more able to act in ways that reflect calm, confident leadership. 

Life will always present unexpected challenges. But in times like these, we have an opportunity to develop practices that benefit the family for a lifetime. Through awareness of the things we say, how we communicate them, along with solid routines and stable leadership, we can prosper in this season. Eventually, using strategic parenting strategies, we will look back with pride, knowing that we can handle whatever comes our way.