Positive Parenting in Uncertain Times. Part 1 CHANGE

Thu April 30th 2020

Positive Parenting in Uncertain Times : Part 1 - CHANGE

 Parenting Support through COVID - 9

Parenting an anxious, immune compromised child through the stress of COVID-19 Lockdown can be very challenging.Help is now here with practical professional advice from Debbie Mills (play therapist / counsellor) who many of you know already from last year’s conference and youth workshops. Debbie shines a light on those COVID lockdown-induced tensions that can build up, with unexpected effects on behaviour and dynamics between siblings. By exploring and understanding some of these tensions Debbie will help equip our parents with appropriate coping strategies and ideas for fun activities to enjoy.Nobody knows for certain just how long families will be confined by lockdown; it is likely however, to be longest and perhaps most stressful for our most vulnerable and immune compromised members. 


By Debbie Mills

‘No one predicted that our life would change so dramatically’

Change occurs every day, often we don’t see the subtle changes, like when a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis or when the water bug emerges from the water as a dragonfly, or when the dew falls gracefully onto the grass during the evening or early morning hours.

Change is occurring everywhere all the time.

The bigger changes we tend to see, like the seasons as the temperature changes or the colour of leaves on the trees, expectant mothers and animals and then the new arrivals of babies or the new animals in the paddocks or when a loved one is unwell, dying or going through trauma – those changes are often hard and painful to watch.  

Then there is the change that we have all been affected by due to Covid 19. The change of how we communicate, shop, travel, socialize, hang out, work, learn, attend appointments, especially medical appointments.

As New Zealand faced ‘Lock down’ I’m sure those of you with loved ones who have fragile immune systems, medical conditions either physical or mental, those requiring or having just received transplants realize that they couldn’t just ‘stop’ or ‘pause’ their body from being unwell or increase their ability to fight bugs. In fact I’m sure the Virus and the Lockdown made you and them feel even more vulnerable, maybe heightened mental illnesses, increased disorders and made you or them even more aware of the changes needed to be made to ‘maintain’ the lifestyle you all knew and to keep all safe and well.   

We have all had to adapt to this ‘new’ way of living to survive and to look after others, keeping all safe. Staying and living in our ‘bubble’ during level 4 lockdown I’m sure have come with it’s struggles, laughter, adventures, self-discoveries, questions, uncertainties, disagreements, aroha and new learnings.

Change and breaks from our ‘normal’ routines can be challenging, exhausting, scary and often can cause worry and anxiety. That feeling of the ‘unknown’, how will we all adapt, manage, get on with each other and carry out the daily chores.

Identifying in your bubble who will be the one that gets the shopping, takes your child or young person to their appointments, who will be the person to organize homeschooling, chores, enforce boundaries. These are all things and many more that could be occurring in your bubble and in your Whanau.

Suddenly it’s announced New Zealand will be moving to Level 3 lockdown, the change occurs and again as an individual and as part of the family or bubble more changes start to occur, but with massive guidelines attached. 

Decisions need to be made relating to going to work, working from home, going to school, home schooling, suddenly these decisions become yours to make and aren’t mandatory but voluntary.

You may be getting pressure from your teen that they want to go to school for that socialization, see their boy/girlfriend, learn with peers and ‘hang out’ (still within the social distancing) you might be getting pressures from work.

Whatever decision you make, there will be ‘changes’ in relation to these and with these decisions come the back lash you may receive, you may get ‘grumpy, frustrated’ teenagers that will blame you! You may get some ‘stick’ from work, or your boss might challenge your decision to stay home.

As parents or caregivers, you want to do what is best for you and your family in and out of your bubble, you want your decision to be the right one, that will continue to keep your child who is immunosuppressed and others in and around your bubble safe and well.

Change is hard.

Ultimately though ‘No one should or has the right to judge’ you and your decision. You need to do what is best for you and your family in your bubble.

Reach out and ask for guidance and advice from your support people, clinicians, school counsellors, psychologists, IDFNZ/Kids Foundation.  

You have dealt with so many changes in the past, I’m quite sure of it, in terms of treatment plans, hospital admissions, visits, appointments, change of diagnosis and medications. Then with all this change comes more change, change of family dynamics, boundaries, values, change of emotions, feelings, grief, the ability to ‘cope’ with simple things.

Change isn’t simple, it’s challenging, there are no right or wrong answers as to how to deal with change, it can create new waves of feelings and emotions, we’ll look at some of these next week.

Change must be managed by yourself and with support around you to move forward.

Activities for Families

Life Cycles – draw, write, reflect on the different life cycles there are in relation to change

Bake – bake together, talking about the changes that occur when different ingredients are added

Make a smoothie - in relation to the changes that have occurred with this virus – each ingredient, could relate to the changes. Be creative – you don’t need to drink it – it’s about the activity not about the product. 

Dress up – choose different outfits and change your facial expressions to relate to the new changes occurring in level 3  

Discussion about PPE gear in hospitals – Invite your child to draw what they have seen is different during their hospital appointments.

This is part 1 of a series of articles aimed at addressing anxiety and behavioral changes stemming from the COVID-19 lockdown confinement, and its ongoing effects on children and families. IDFNZ members with questions relating to this and the other articles in this series can email questions to info@idfnz.org.nz  for a response from Debbie.