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Pandemic parenting 101: How not to lose your cool with the kids
TORONTO -- Parenting can be tough at the best of times, but family life has changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stress brought on by the uncertainty of a global health crisis, coupled with months at home with their children, may cause some parents to crack under the pressure.
Canadian author and mother Shantelle Bisson told CTV's Your Morning that triggers in a parent’s own life, including finances and work, can play a part in losing their cool with their kids.
In her new parenting book, 'Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Cool', Bisson explains that a parent needs to identify those triggers to make sure "adult issues" are not being dumped onto the kids.
"Oftentimes when our emotions are heightened it's because we're upset by something rather upset by something they've done, something they've said, or again outside influences that we can't control of such as a pandemic," Bisson told Your Morning on Tuesday.
Bisson said communication between parents and their kids can help work through those triggers that are causing stress within the home.
"The important thing is to remember to recognize our own triggers, and then find ways to communicate through those triggers to our children, to our partners, what we're going through and what's happening," Bisson said. "We're all in this together but we're all experiencing it differently, especially our children."
By expressing themselves, Bisson said parents can get their emotions across to their kids without either party losing their cool.
"What's really, really important -- and it also helps your children grow up and be able to express themselves -- is that you say to them, 'Hey, mommy feels like this right now. It has nothing to do with you. I'm scared, or I'm angry or I'm tired or I'm bored.' By identifying your own feelings and your own behaviours, it helps your children to go, 'Oh, ok. I feel that way too and that's alright'," Bisson said.
Bisson added that as long as parents express themselves in a way that is not disrespectful or seen as "lashing out," most kids will be able to recognize and empathize with those same emotions.
However, Bisson said kids may not understand the financial stress, uncertainty or fears their parents are feeling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, even after it is explained to them. In those situations, Bisson said parents need to be mindful in picking their battles.
"Children don't really understand that so it's important for us to know where we are emotionally and then to deal with that either within ourselves or by communicating with our partner, and certainly by exercising some grace, not only for ourselves, but for our kids and our spouses too," she said.
Bisson said parents also need to put themselves in their children's shoes to better understand their behaviours and reactions. She explained that, even though her three daughters were raised in the same house with the same rules and expectations, each one reacted differently.
"If you find that there's something in your child that's a recurring habit or recurring behaviour pattern, those are the ones that you really want to focus on and you want to target because this is something that you're seeing is part of their character, and that's what you want to address," Bisson said.
"You really, really want to make sure that you're honing in on things that are going to maybe end up making them not so likable in society when they go out in the world," she added.
In her book, Bisson also said it is important for a parent to give their child space and be the first to apologize when an issue arises.