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How to manage your children’s emotions during quarantine

News Channel 3 spoke with Reena Patel, a San Diego-based renowned parenting expert, guidance counselor, licensed educational psychologist, and board-certified behavior analyst to learn ways parents can manage their children's emotions during this quarantine.

"By now, you probably are starting to see some frustration kick-in, maybe even some anxiety with our little ones some different behaviors, with our teens some more push back," she said.

If you notice changes in behavior, the first thing she recommends is just validating what they are feeling.

"Allow your children to lean in and feel what they are feeling," Patel said. "There's no judgment. There's no right or wrong. We are in uncharted territory and so validate by listening and express back what you are hearing," she added.

Patal also said to let your children know that you are with them and that you understand what they are feeling.

"Children need to feel reassured and let them know that this will pass and that there is a reason why we are quarantined," she said.

Patel also told us that there are some words parents should avoid using.

"The biggest word that comes to mind and as a psychologist, I always tell parents to please do not say, 'don't,'" she said.

"We have an innate way to say, 'don't cry,' or 'don't feel like this,' and it's okay for them to feel whatever emotions they are feeling," she said.

She said that when we use the word, "don't"' we cause the child to push their feelings aside and then it gets bottled up.

"When you validate, use senses like, 'I see that you are upset,' 'I hear that you are struggling with trying to get your schoolwork done or write-behind a screen for a long period of time and you need a break,'" she said.

Patel also recommends practicing family gratitude activities like dinner gratitude statements.

"Sit around the dinner table and go around talking about what we are grateful for and what we are thankful for," she said. "Oftentimes it's the things right around us, like being thankful that we can play board games together or thankful that we are healthy, the fact that we can FaceTime our loved ones and see them even though we can't touch or hug them," she explained.

Here are some more bullet-point tips she recommends:

  • Check in with your child. 
  • Be present, away from your phone, look at them while talking and listening.
  • Be in the moment. No multitasking.
  • Allow independence.
  • Find ways to give your teen privacy during this time. Especially college children who are back home.

Caitlin Thropay

Caitlin Thropay is the Weekend Morning Anchor and Lifestyle Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News Leader. Learn more about Caitlin here.

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