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Finding a balance: Strengthening our family during a pandemic

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  • By Ravy Lieng, 6th Medical Group Family Advocacy intervention specialist and Claudia Bravo, Bachelors of Social Work intern, University of South Florida

Attention parents! Are you interested in learning healthy and safe ways to manage your emotions when it comes to raising your children during a pandemic?

Children learn from their parents and tend to model similar behaviors of stress during times of crisis. It is important to practice self-awareness and reflect on ways to navigate through those emotions with positive coping skills.

COVID-19, which is the novel coronavirus, may bring up overwhelming emotions. In addition, social distancing can bring fear and concerns for everyone. Let’s talk about ways to cope as a whole family unit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we can do this by simply taking a break from social media. Recurring news about the pandemic can be upsetting due to re-exposure that can produce fear of the unknown. An alternative can be to gain factual knowledge by researching the pandemic through credible resources and explaining the importance of safety precautions in developmentally appropriate language your children can understand.

Additionally, it is imperative to take care of your body by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep and avoiding alcohol and drugs. The goal is to practice self-care. Promote healthy eating by encouraging members of your family to eat meals together and discuss the importance of the value of nutritious meals. Another healthy suggestion is to practice important sleep hygiene, such as keeping routine sleep times, engaging in relaxing activities one hour prior to bedtime, and using the bed only for sleep and intimacy.

Find alternatives to go-to activities like movies and video games. Try engaging in activities with your children outside of screen time, such as playing board games, listening to music, or reading a book during quiet time.

Finally, give yourself a break. Understand when you are drifting into a heightened stage of emotions. Allow yourself to be aware of the emotion in the present moment and challenge yourself to find a positive way to cope.

It is okay to take a breath and a healthy time out away from your children as long as they have supervision in a manner consistent with their developmental level. These are simple ways to practice positive protective factors during the pandemic, which can also reduce family violence in the home.

For more questions about healthy and safe parenting during the extended school closing and pandemic, reach out to the 6th Medical Group’s Family Advocacy Program at (813) 827-9172.

The Air Force Family Advocacy Program is dedicated to domestic and child abuse prevention, education, prompt reporting, investigation, intervention and treatment. The FAP provides a variety of services to Airmen and families to enhance their relationship skills and improve their quality of life. This mission is accomplished through a variety of groups, seminars, workshops and counseling and intervention services.