Pandemic parenting: Responding to poor behavior in children


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Have you noticed your kids acting out more over the last couple of months? Perhaps they have been giving you more back talk or sass. Are they acting out of character?

Well, as we move deeper into the pandemic, a number of families are experiencing that right now. Katie Collett followed up with Justin Ray and Megan Sweeney, two mental health professionals with Fairfield Psychological Associates in Virginia Beach, for their advice on pandemic parenting.

“In a lot of the families that I’m working with they are school age, like I would say more 10 and under, it’s more of behavioral problems that didn’t exist before,” said Megan, a licensed professional counselor.

Megan says a schedule is so important for our bodies to thrive.

“So when I work with parents, what is your daily schedule? What does it look like? What does morning to night look like? If it’s chaotic, then the behavior is going to be chaotic. Do we need to change up their schedule a little bit? Do we need to add a bike ride in the morning to get some of their energy out? Or maybe in the evening?”

Justin is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. He says it’s imperative for parents to set a positive example by following CDC guidelines that children hear almost everyday.

“You’re going to see kids say ‘well my dad doesn’t wear a mask’, or ‘my mom said’, and then they’re putting other people or themselves at risk,” said Justin.

If their parents aren’t following the rules, then the children may question why they should.

Justin emphasizes above all, “Parenting must continue. I mean, regardless of what’s happening, parenting must continue. You’re the authority and you make the rules and you set the standard and that continues today like it does any day. I tell the parents that’s what you do. You continue to parent.”

“We’re the leaders. We’re the disciplinarians, and they need us to do that for them right now,” said Megan.

There is a lot to discuss when it comes to pandemic parenting, including the importance of self care.

Megan and Katie go more in depth on that topic. You’ll see that part of our conversation Friday on WAVY News 10 Today beginning at 4:30 a.m.

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