Guidance for Families

During the current corona outbreak we want to provide extra support to parents. We have created a material package where you can find advice on how to make staying at home a more pleasant experience for all family members. We hope you find the advices beneficial in the future, too.

1. Keep calm

Keep calm and remain serene. In a difficult situation, it is easy to panic and transfer your angst to other people. Also, being confined in the home can lead to stress and anxiety. Small children will not remember what caused the exceptional situation but they’ll remember the atmosphere at home and their worrying parents. Do as the authorities advise and explain it to your children in an age-appropriate manner. Show example to follow the orders. Tell your children the situation is severe but also make sure that the children feel safe from your explanation. Support your children’s feelings of safety by sharing them that people have passed through bad times before.

  • How could you spend the time together at home? Could you take on activities you never had time to do before? When you have nice activities at hand, there is less time to feel irritated.
  • An adult is the best pacifier of a child’s stress. How can you calm your own mind and regulate your emotions? What makes you happy and relaxed?
  • Accept the fluctuations of your own moods but don’t blame the child of your own tiredness or frustrations. Find out the ways your family can take a time-out if going gets tough at home.

2. Teach daily routines

When the normal pattern of daily life dissolves, it’s vital to create a structure for children to follow. If children cannot go to school, creating new routines at home is a priority. This makes learning and feeling comfortable together easier. Stabilizing the daily schedule reduces the inner chaos in a child’s mind. If the child lives in two homes, finding common rules in both of them is significant.

  • Agree on when to do schoolwork and when the parent has an “office open”.  You can have breaks on pre-scheduled times and share experiences on “How the business meetings have been running”.
  • Build a daily plan where you mark the important tasks and the free time.
  • Be flexible.
  • Negotiating the screen time grows in importance. The adult shows an example here, too.
  • If you have preschool-aged children at home, make a deal with the other adults of the shifts in supervising them or ask for help in babysitting. Otherwise your remote working will hardly be smooth. If you are alone with your child, focus on the child.

3. Go back to basics

Countless small chores make a normal day. Now you may have a chance to work together on them. Share cooking breakfast with your child and show them how to fill up a dish washing machine. Do tasks together you normally don’t have time to do. Show how to make a bed, how to sort the waste and how to hang the laundry. Surprisingly many people don’t know how to accomplish these tasks.

  • Show how to sew on a button.
  • Teach how to make a polite phone call to a stranger.
  • Give your child age-appropriate responsibilities that benefit all family members. They can water the plants or put the cushions in their place.
  • An adolescent may shop for her grandparents.

4. Find your strengths

In every family, there are a lot of capabilities. Every family is unique and has strengths in a range of fields. Think together what they are. What could you share more together? What would you like to do more together? What has brought you joy? How could you see the best in each other and avoid unnecessary arguing?

  • Could the time be right to look at old photos, read aloud, sew or do woodwork, play, sing or tell jokes together?
  • You could teach a new trick to your dog or paint the most beautiful decorative egg.
  • You could find time to sit down to discuss topics with your family or find time to have alone to relax and ponder.

5. Be compassionate

People are naturally compassionate and willing to help. Children want to do their share. It is the task of the parent to give examples on how to support each other. As we need to isolate, an emphasis on wellbeing should be examined. Now it is time to call others and virtually connect. Perhaps we now have more time to listen to others and show kindness in issues unrelated to the time of crisis? Concrete help is needed too. Do you have capabilities you could share to others via online, for example? Could you be a child’s remote teacher or a sport supervisor? Could you build a chat group that organizes meals for its members?

  • Assist a senior citizen to use a video chat function on their device.
  • Cheer up a person by sending them a traditional letter.
  • Be available when needed.
  • Ask for help for yourself too. Even now, you don’t have to accomplish everything. Give a chance to help for those who seem to be in need of assistance. Finding meaning in life comes from noticing that you are needed. For example, ask your grandfather how to vent the heater.
  • Show self-compassion to yourself. Allow your home to be messier than usual due to it being in use all day long.

6. Build hope

A time of crisis may cause severe disappointments: the long-awaited trips, gatherings, parties, tournaments and even the common being together with friends may be cancelled. Thorough preparations may seem to have been in vain and the rewards for working hard are not obtained. Parents’ optimism and encouragement to continue pushing forward can make all the difference. We can do this together! Perhaps we can take advantage of the waiting period and the quarantine times. Perhaps we will feel thankful for this particular time.

  • Help your child imagine how will it feel when they go to school and see friends and life is back normal again.
  • Think how you keep hopeful and gritty in the middle of the daily disastrous news.
  • Tell your child that throughout times, there have been threats and dangers that we can do about. We cope together now as well.

7. Get creative

During exceptional times, our ability to find new ways to manage daily life appear. Now it’s time to use our imagination. How do we perform sports routines at home? How can we bake if there is no yeast in the grocery? How can we support our local cafeteria if we are not allowed to go there? Children’s imagination has no limits, take them along to find new ideas. On the other hand, children may be surprisingly cautious. Take your time to explain why many things are different now and why we all need to check out the ways we act.

  • Build a hut on the floor in your living room if you cannot drive to the countryside.
  • Not all families are able to teach their children at home. Ask older siblings, grandparents or the parents of your child’s friends to help. Many people are more than happy to do it.

8. Reinforce positivity

A positive attitude toward life is needed now more than ever. We have to be with our thoughts that bring us comfort and happiness. We have time to get close to our beloved ones. In many ways, we now have the chance to do activities we always wanted to. Now there is opportunity for family dinners and cosy lazy time together. Even though we cannot visit all our friends, we can contact them in many ways in order to feel close to them. During the crisis, some of us may realise what really matters in life.

  • Make someone happy by complimenting them or giving positive feedback.
  • Pay attention to encouraging communication. Talk about other topics besides the crisis.
  • There is room for being funny even if the situation is severe.  Small children should not worry too much.

9. See the good in a child

Every child deserves to succeed. A child’s interactions have now changed dramatically since that their schools and hobbies have largely closed their doors. it’s important that parents support children through this challenging time. The chances of a family to respond to the needs of their children and adolescents varies a lot. Nevertheless, every parent can encourage and give positive feedback when something good occurs. The issues may be small and they may feel it to be insignificant. However, they shape the emotional atmosphere and help in coping through these tough circumstances. Grit is needed now and plenty of encouragement to fuel it.

  • Give positive feedback when you see something nice happen.
  • Encourage other children in addition to your own ones.
  • Talk nicely about people behind their backs and spread the good word.
  • Ignore small mistakes.
  • Listen to those facing hard times sensitively. In the worst moments, there are often no words.

10. Look for help

In exceptional, quickly changing circumstances, many families lack abilities to adapt. Uncertainty concerning the future is a serious threat to one’s well-being. This may show in a child’s increased feelings of insecurity due to long lonely hours and the alterations in their parents’ behaviour. The families that were already burdened have been hit harder than others. Neglects, substance abuse and increased threat of violence are a reality in many homes. Children and adolescents spending too much time alone can be a developmental risk and a real cause for concern.

  • Call a friend who may need your help.
  • Offer your assistance in being a supportive adult or a remote supervisor for a child who spends a lot of time alone.
  • Don’t wait but look for help if the circumstances in your home get threatening.