Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, School Psychologist, CHFI, CFE
According to a recent survey, state stay at home orders and wide scale quarantining of families are causing a lot of stress for many parents. Eighty-three percent of the surveyed parents indicated that their child’s school was closed, Twenty-five percent reported that they experienced more conflicts with their children, fifteen percent disciplined their children more and 20 percent said that they yelled more often during the shut down orders than before.
Stress impacting low income families hardest hit
Additionally a Times article reported that low income families have been the hardest hit by the Quarantine and stay at home orders. It states, “low-income jobs—line-cooks, nurse’s aids, grocery store clerks, nannies—mostly can’t be done remotely, and the majority of low-income jobs don’t offer paid sick days.” This is causing enormous stress for single-parent families and dual earners working in the service sector.
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Poor access to broadband impacts low income families of students
Adding to the challenges introduced into family routines already strained due to lower incomes; the need to provide home-based education weighs heavily on the minds of moms and dads. The Times article states, “as schools across the nation float virtual learning in lieu of traditional classroom instruction, the millions of households that lack access to high speed internet might be out of luck.”
Overwhelmed guardians and parents regardless of income level may resort to abuse
The National Public Radio has even found that stressed out-of-work parents are more prone to abuse their children during the quarantine and lockdown orders. The reporters reference information obtained by the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network which they based upon calls to their hotline, “by the end of March, with much of the country under lockdown, there was a 22% increase in monthly calls from people younger than 18, and half of all incoming contacts were from minors.” Further, seventy-nine percent of the callers to the hotline told volunteers that they were presently living with the reported abuser and sixty-seven percent said their abuser was a family member.”
Stressed caretakers liken quarantine to house arrest
Former housewives reality tv star, Meghan King Edmonds, like most parents, hasn’t resorted to child abuse, but she has likened the overly broad quarantine to house arrest. She has written about her troubles in her blog and “opening up about her misery in quarantine as a single mother of two.”
Neurological Information to help parents cope
It might be helpful for stressed parents and caretakers who feel out of control, angry and frustrated about their current ‘house arrest’ predicament to understand the neurological science of child misbehavior. Before a child misbehaves, a large amount of cortisol is released into the brain. Cortisol is hormone that acts much like a steroid. It serves to regulate a wide array of natural processes that occur throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It plays a very strategic role in helping your child’s body respond to stress. With a burst of cortisol into your child’s system, his thinking becomes impaired which makes him more likely to become unfocused, difficult for which to deal, argumentative, problematic, defiant, as well as over or hyperactive. And, by the way, this same hormone, cortisol, is very much active in the bodies of adults and causes the same reactions. So how do we deal with stress effectively? The American Cancer Fund offers these tips that I have included with a few of my own.
5 Simple and no cost Tips to Reduce Quarantine Stress
- Breathe deeper. When feeling stressed, most people will take shorter, labored breaths. When breathing in this manner, stale air is not expelled, oxidation of the tissues is incomplete, and your muscles remain tense.
- Become more flexible. To lower your own stress levels and those of your cohabitants (children, extended family, spouse and friends), lower your need for control by becoming more flexible. Some things are not worth arguing about, not worth not doing perfectly, and many issues, you will find, are fine to compromise upon. Remember, no one is leading the life they had envisioned just a few short months ago. So the need to adapt to the situation is paramount.
- Practice Forgiveness. The time to hold a grudge, worry about a perceived slight or act of disrespect is not now. When you hold a forgiving view of events, sympathy and compassion for your loved ones, tempers immediately cease to flare for unimportant details. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world. Remember too that I am imperfect, you are imperfect and our children too are imperfect and deserve our compassion and love.
- Eat healthy and calm-inducing foods. According to HealthLine, here are the foods you should consider adding to your family’s diet: yogurt, salmon, dark chocolate, turmeric spice, and chamomile.
- Avoid consuming these items in excess. The Eating Well blog suggests that when stressed, that some foods should not be consumed in excess, and emphasize that these foods alone may stress you out. : white floor, sugar, salt, processed meats (hot dogs, deli meats, sausage, beef jerky), caffeine, fried foods (bake food instead), and alcohol. For an added extra bonus, please see below.
- Read and download my free e-books. Coping with Stress and/or Anger Management.
By the way, if you are interested in learning more about the ways in which you can practice mindfulness to reduce stress related to the quarantine, lockdown and stay at home orders, or if you’d like to access resources to help your child learn in a homeschool setting, please visit my Amazon store. All of the products listed have been expertly curated by a School Psychologist.
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