The Social Distancing and Family Dynamics Study

If you have a school-aged child (5-18) living in your home, you could participate in a new study!


Navigating this crisis is tough on everyone. The stress involved can easily make us short tempered and impatient with the people around us. However, a little patience and understanding can go a long way to soothe out that stress for everyone. So if your children or your partner/coparent start acting irritable and cranky or if tempers flare, see past the surface and understand that everyone is feeling on edge and vulnerable right now. A hug might be more effective than a sharp and cutting response.


There  is no doubt that many of our routines and schedules have been turned upside down. Though trying to make some sort of a schedule, or keep to a routine could help to remind us of some normalcy in all of this. We recommend that you try to keep doing the things you would normally do both for yourself and for your kids: go to bed, wake up, eat meals, and shower, etc… at the same time you normally would. This could be tremendously helpful for everyone. Within your days, build in time for both structured (work/schoolwork) and unstructured activities (games, exercise, art). Most importantly, be flexible and patient with your schedule.


Let’s take some time to celebrate that we have this time with our families. Stressors and arguments will arise, however there maybe a way to put a positive spin on things. Using humor to get you through tough situations can be really helpful in some situations to cut the tension. Are there are fun things to look forward to planning/doing in the future when this has all passed? Through difficult times, try to find the silver lining in a situation and use this as a time to show and teach your children about resiliency in the face of difficulty.


There is probably a lot on your plate these days and you are probably wondering how things will get done. Truth is likely that everyone is likely stretched thin (emotionally, financially), and the more you and your family can come together as a team, the more each person’s needs will likely be met. Maybe that looks like your coparent and you taking shifts to watch the kids, or it means making up a fun game to have kids help with chores around the house (having a dance cleanup party). Let’s remember that we are in this together and we will get through this together.


Most of us are used to having some down time each day, time by ourselves to unwind and relax. So, even if you are confined to a small space, schedule some alone time, whether it is a long bath, reading a book, listening to music on headphones, meditating, or taking a quick nap. You may trade off on parenting duties or let your children watch that extra movie or TV episode during these times to give everyone a bit of a break. By giving everyone some alone time, the time you spend together will be more enjoyable.


Talking about COVID-19 with your kids is no doubt a difficult conversation to have, though it is an important one. Kids these days are getting a lot of mixed messages, experiencing a lot of change and unpredictability and one thing we can do is talk to them about all of those things! You may not necessarily have the answer to everything they ask, but you can ask them what their understanding of the situation is, what is scary, concerning or confusing. You can also let them know what your family’s plan is: that you will do everything you can to keep them safe and informed.


Though we may be physically distancing ourselves from others there are countless ways to stay connected these days! Try to maintain connections to other family members, friends, communities through social media, FaceTime, Skype, etc. Go ahead and schedule a virtual playdate so your children can still connect with their friends, attend a virtual worship service if this is a strong value and tradition in your family, and maybe through these virtual connections you can pick up a new hobby (online yoga, creative arts, etc..).


There are countless ways to give back to the community and to lend a helping hand. Check out your local community’s needs or search national volunteer opportunities here. Kids may enjoy making cards and other crafts, or making friendly phone calls to those in need. Each and every person can make a difference and this is a great way to show your kids the value of giving back.