Parents have always served as the first, and typically, the most important role model for their children, even though family members, teachers, and coaches have a significant impact on a child’s development as well. However, in the wake of the pandemic, these people have had less of a presence in children’s lives which ultimately left parents without the additional support they typically depend on. Combined with the stressors that have come with the pandemic, parental self-care has taken a back burner and bad habits are being observed and learned by children.
The goal of parenting is to raise happy and healthy individuals with strong moral and ethical views and behaviors. For this reason, parents often establish rules for their children to follow, limit exposure to too much media, and work to instill life skills that provide children the tools to be the best version of themselves. But often in times of unrest, parents have difficulty modeling what they expect their children’s behaviors to show. They instead follow the motto “do as I say, not as I do.” Unfortunately, this leads to confusion for children and can often create frustration.
To alleviate any potential problems this confusion may present, it’s important for parents to practice self-care. Like the airplane rule of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before your child, parents must take care of themselves in order to be the best for their children. To do this, parents need to preserve their mental and physical wellbeing so they can model healthy behaviors and better support their children during these difficult times.
Much like Martial Arts aims to help children develop these skills, it’s important for parents to take care of themselves physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. This holistic approach to wellbeing demonstrates healthy role modeling for children and helps them develop beneficial behaviors and attitudes as a way of responding to the outside world. Especially in times of uncertainty and peril, it is even more important for parents to teach children powerful positive ways of living life through modeling.
When parents are attuned to their own feelings and patient with themselves in the midst of multiple changes, it teaches their children positive coping skills. Adapting to new routines and creating consistency then allows parents to take care of themselves which gives them to ability connect with their children and have more forethought in their parenting. Creating these connections will nurture the parent-child bond and prompt positive role modeling and learning.
Remember, children learn by observing so parents should lead by example. When parents are stressed and emotionally drained, they model behaviors that are contrary to what they intend to teach their children. And no, parents are not perfect and mistakes will be made. However, being mindful when these things happen can create opportunities to teach children humbleness and forgiveness which are invaluable life skills.