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Life and Religion

Communication skill about upheavel essential for modern parents
Talk and listen to kids early and often
Published Thursday, September 24, 2020 10:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Keeping the lines of communication open is a key asset for parents to help their children cope with change.

Being a parent feels harder in 2020.

Jaren Doby, a licensed therapist with Novant Health Psychiatric Associates in Huntersville and father of an 8-year-old girl, knows the struggle of navigating social and political unrest as well as a pandemic and the remote learning that comes with it. How is he getting along? By keeping lines of communication open. Doby reminds his patients that conversation is key during this time, not only with each other, but with children.

“It’s a tall order,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s important to be able to note that we are not in this alone.”

Virtual learning means balancing more for adults and children than the typical school day prior to the pandemic. He suggests bonding with other parents over strategies to get through the day, and also being willing to share and implement tips.

Above all, parents need to talk to their kids about what they are experiencing.

“We cannot assume that children understand what’s going on or are completely aware of what is happening at this particular time and that they are going to be OK because adjustments or coping has no age or maturity limits,” Doby said. “Ultimately, we have to make sure that we are having these conversations with one another as a family, as a people, so that everyone has a true understanding of what is happening so that we can also be able to identify any kind of barriers or successes that exist. This can save us time in some areas, and give more time and attention to other areas to make sure that someone is OK.”

Doby advises gathering a firm grasp of what children know before offering information about what is going on in the world.

“It’s important to be able to explore what your children already know, because there are a lot of kids, regardless of age, who are very knowledgeable of what is going on,” he said. “We’re living in the age of technology, where with the swipe of a finger you can literally find out any and everything that’s going on in the world. They may be already knowledgeable of what’s happening, but it’s important to teach good communication practices by asking the questions, ‘what is it that you know about what’s going on at this point in time? Tell me what you think is happening with the pandemic?’ Or asking them how they feel about having to attend school virtually, or not being able to go in-person.”

Doby suggests having more than one conversation.

“Don’t just, ‘oh, they seem to be doing OK, let’s just move on with life,’” he said. “Assumptions can lead to very big mistakes. Making sure that we follow up with communication with both children and adults and really continue to have that dialogue and conversation of how they are doing with things, and providing an outlet to be able to identify and process feelings and to provide additional strategies and outlets to help fill gaps. Communication is key.”


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