Parenting in the pandemic has proven to be the parenting Olympics. There are so many new decisions to make and so much division in the country related to those decisions. Children, as always, are watching and waiting to see how we respond. As the keepers of all the answers (in their minds even if they won’t admit it), we have a golden opportunity to turn those divisions into life lessons.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) presents children with deficits in executive functioning skills which means making decisions and problem solving is harder for them than their neurotypical peers. Developing friendships and establishing boundaries can be even harder. So, let’s dig a little deeper into the four key skills your child can learn to make this pandemic a little more bearable instead of increasing their COVID anxiety.
To vax or not to vax has been the question. You have likely made a choice based on what is best for your family. Several factors went into that decision. It doesn’t matter what those factors were. You weighed the pros and cons. You knew there were consequences, good and bad, associated with your decisions. You used the information available and made the best decision for your family. Share that process with your child.
To mask or not to mask? Some schools have mask mandates while others do not. Some offices also have mask and vaccine mandates. Again, wherever you stand on the issue, you had to make some decisions. In making those decisions you had to determine childcare options, the financial impact of your decisions, the emotional and social implications of your decision and so on. Talk your child through their feelings about each of these scenarios. They have likely heard their friends talk about what their parents and family members have said. Those conversations may not align with your family’s beliefs. The information may not be factual. It’s important to engage your child in these conversations to walk them through the problem-solving process with real life scenarios that have an impact on their lives. Remember to use your best judgment about their maturity level on the topic.
Emotional control is usually the executive functioning skill that makes it hard for children with ADHD to make and keep friends. When you made your choices about whether to homeschool, have your child attend school virtually, get the vaccination or not, there were bound to be people in your life who disagreed. The news has blasted us with the unvaccinated versus the vaccinated narrative. This is the perfect opportunity to teach your child how to respect other people’s opinions and establish healthy boundaries. This allows them to learn that friendships and relationships don’t always mean agreement, but they should always mean respect, even if we see things differently.
Covid anxiety in children has been growing as the pandemic continues. Part of the anxiety, especially for our children with ADHD stems from the unknown. They just don’t have that flexibility to shift with the tide like some people do. Having the conversations about those decision making, and problem-solving processes will help.
As parents we tend to withhold information from our children to “shield” them from harm. The thing is, children, especially those with ADHD, tend to fill in the blanks with their own information. They need answers. Some information is better than no information to them. Remember, children talk to their friends and view them as a trusted source of information. That information is usually far worse than the information you are shielding them from.
While the pandemic’s course is beyond our control, we have control over our actions during the pandemic. Focus your conversations with your child on the things they have control over and encourage them to release the things they do not. Be honest with them and be the example of what that looks like.
For more help with improving your child’s executive functioning and social skills, schedule a behavior therapy session here.