Imperfectly perfect moments in the times of lockdown: Helping children manage emotions

“Nobody plays with me in this house”. My 8-year-old commented first thing in the morning. We had played about one hour of scrabble as a family the previous night.

“Appa and Thatha are so lucky, they get to watch a lot of T.V. Only I have restricted T.V. time”, she said the day after she had watched her favourite movie on the laptop.

“You never make anything I like. I hate this Tiffin!”, she said after having her favourite Aloo paratha for the previous meal!

There have been several moments like these during the lockdown, when my daughter was having big feelings. Her melt downs were leaving my husband and me very irritable! 

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you had such moments in your family as well?

Feeling furious, I wanted to lash out and tell her to stop complaining.  As children, we didn’t have access to computers, television or even children’s books easily. Desserts and sweets were made only on special occasions.  She ought to be grateful for the privileges she has and not take them for granted. 

My husband and I were stressed too, trying to keep things going in the house in these uncertain times of COVID19, all by ourselves (meals, cleaning of house, utensils, etc). In this state of mind, I found it difficult to NOT react to our daughter’s meltdowns with blame and comparison. But I knew that doing so would leave all of us angry and disconnected with one another.

It is the responsibility of every parent to help their child cope with this difficult period. To have the mind space for that, I needed to work on regulating my own feelings. I acknowledged feeling stressed due to the Corona situation and feeling regretful for not being able to make my daughter’s birthday special. It was a week away bang in the middle of the lockdown. I gave myself empathy by reminding myself that I am doing the best I can, took some deep breaths, had quiet time with a hot cup of tea.

Feeling calmer, I took a pause to observe what was happening with our daughter. This is called mapping the backstory wherein a parent reflects on what has happened or may be happening in a child’s life that could be impacting their current behaviour.

There was a lot happening in my daughter’s life! Firstly, the birthday plans she had made to celebrate with friends got cancelled. The birthday dress we had ordered online too got stuck in transit. This situation might sound trivial to us adults, but for an 8-year-old, it meant a lot of heartache. Secondly, her routine was disrupted. She could neither go to school nor go out to play, nor meet her friends nor attend her football and music classes.  Thirdly, we were aware that she was getting anxious seeing news on TV and overhearing conversations about Covid between adults at home.