8 Simple Steps for Crisis Parenting: Parents as Play Therapists

8 Simple Steps for Crisis Parenting: Parents as Play Therapists April 1, 2020

We are in a temporary age of physical distancing or social distancing as a societal response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Crisis times require a change in our daily routine as well as mental state. It has been three weeks since the social distancing policy was first announced and two weeks into the transition from residential public schools to online education. Many Americans are understandably stressed from the sudden drastic changes. Moms and Dads, whether we raise kids full time, work from home or at the office, can take care of children during these stressful times by adjusting accordingly. Below are eight simple steps for crisis parenting with young children or teens:

  1. Hug your kids.
  2. Suspend or relax some household rules and behavior expectations.
  3. Spend some alone time connecting with each kid by listening and sharing.
  4. Spend time playing with the kids.
  5. Apologize to your kids when you mess up, big or small.
  6. Quietly model some self-care skills: praying/meditating, staying positive, reading, walking, taking care of personal hygiene, getting adequate sleep, exercising, being kind to yourself, doing fun things, cleaning, etc…
  7. Help the kids stay connected with family and friends by allowing them to talk, text, FaceTime or video chat.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 as needed, in any order.
    Crisis Parenting Requires Play therapy

As a social worker of Asian descent, my personal and professional experiences have convinced me that our children’s academic success rests on their mental health. Yet, a parent’s mental, spiritual, and emotional functioning deeply affects the children’s mental health. It’s perfectly okay for you or your child to feel some anxiety or tension during times of stress.

Recently, after some caring, conscientious moms reached out to me, I found myself sharing that it’s more important to prioritize our child(ren)’s mental health over their academic progress. Finding time to relax and play with our kids is important for their well being. Play therapists connect with young children through the language of play. By fostering a safe, open environment at home for  your child to playfully explore and connect, you are nurturing their creativity and opening the learning pathways. Despite my Asian upbringing of emphasizing educational achievements at all costs, being a play therapist has helped me to slow down and enjoy my children. They are, indeed, gifts from above.

This leads me to ask: Have you been mindful to be kind to yourself? If these eight simple steps for crisis parenting do not keep you afloat during these trying times, and you find yourself with excessive debilitating anxiety, it may be helpful to reach out to a helping professional. All parents need encouragement and support to raise kids well. And even author moms with psychotherapy skills can benefit from receiving assistance.

What are some ways that you’ve adjusted to these changing times?



About Kim Parker
Wife, mom of 3, social worker, Christian, counselor, author of East Meets West: Parenting From the Best of Both Worlds You can read more about the author here.

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