During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s vital that you understand your role as a leader.

Leaders lead the way. They stay calm and act with integrity. They understand the bigger picture and inspire and empower the people they lead. They lead by example, and they help others to work as a team, do their best, and understand what they need to do.

So, what do you need to do, as a leader in your family?

Your job as a parent is to work towards the aim that you and your children come through this stronger and happier. Yes, even in a crisis, you can lead the way and help your children learn valuable lessons of planning, having a good mindset, staying calm and creating stability out of chaos.

It’s good to ask yourself how you want your children to remember you during this time. Then, try to be that person!

Maya Angelou said: ‘I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.’

Your child will remember this pandemic for the rest of their lives. What do you want them to be saying about you during this period?
Someone who was obsessed by the news and social media, panic buying, couldn’t stop talking about Coronavirus and who was always distracted, anxious and fearful?
Or someone who understood this as an opportunity to connect with their children and look out for the elderly, vulnerable and people who really need protecting.

So, what are some of the things you can do that help you stay calm and be a good leader for your family at this time?

  1. Remember the bigger picture. Your job in all of this is to make sure that you and your children come through this stronger and happier. Yes, even in a crisis, you can lead the way and help your children learn valuable lessons of planning, having a good mindset, staying calm and creating stability out of chaos. It’s good to ask yourself how you want your children to remember you during this time. Then, try to be that person!
  2. Let your child know how important they are to you. One very important question, is does your child feel you are looking forward to this time with them? Or do they think you’re worried and miserable about it? It would be great to let your child know that this is a wonderful opportunity and how much you’re looking forward to this extended time with them.
  3. Talk to your child about Coronavirus. Firstly, check what your child knows, and calmly correct any misunderstandings. Then explain that Coronavirus is a bug that’s very easy to spread. Lots of people are going to get the bug, and most of them they have something like a cold or flu – with a cough, high temperature and aches and pains. Some children won’t have any symptoms! However people over 70, and some people with lung and heart conditions, could develop pneumonia, and need to go to hospital. And some of those will die from the same bug.
  4. Explain to your child about social distancing and good hygiene. Talk to your child about why hand-washing, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow and keeping away from other people is needed to stop the spread of the virus. That allows the hospitals to deal with the number of people needing Intensive Care beds and ventilators at any one time.
    In all likelihood, 50 to 80% of the population are going to get Coronavirus. That means accepting that you and your family are probably going to get it at some point. The main thing is to protect the elderly and vulnerable form getting it. That is why we need to wash our hands and stay away from other people. So, not too many people get the virus at one time, and the hospitals can cope.
  5. Work as a team. Your child will behave much better, if you treat them as much more grown up than they really are. It’s good to sit down regularly at the table, ask if they have any questions, talk about what is going on in language your child can understand. Talk about what is going to happen each day, and how your child can help. Doing jobs around the home can be done together. Then you can also enjoy time to play games and have fun.
  6. Keep your mindset healthy. Limit the number of times you check the news and social media. Try to find one or two reliable sources that you check once or twice a day, to help you stay informed. Focus instead on how to make the most of this time with your family. Get as much fresh air and exercise as you can.
    It’s also interesting that helping other people, volunteering and caring for others is known to help people feel calmer and happier. So, this is a good time to work out what you (and your family) can do to help others. Plus, to stay in contact with older relatives with phone calls, Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp video calls.
  7. Learn what helps you to stay calm. Then use it!
    What helps you to keep your temper and stay in control of your emotions?
    Meditation Now is a good time to download a meditation app such as Insight Timer, Calm or Headspace. Or just plan some time to sit quietly and focus on your breathing.
    Yoga
    – Explore YouTube for some great yoga sessions.
    Say a mantra ‘I’m calm, I’m safe and I’ll handle this’
    Guided visualisation – where you picture a lovely scene, and imagine yourself relaxing.
    Re-frame your thoughts – when you are triggered think: what’s a more helpful, accurate or realistic thought?
    Create a calm button. When you are feeling calm, put your right thumb in the centre of your left palm. Put the rest of your fingers on the back of your hand, and squeeze your palm, really tuning in to how calm you’re feeling and how your muscles are floppy and relaxed. Do this up to 15 times. Then, when you start to feel annoyed or worried, use your calm button and you will instantly feel more relaxed.
    Take three long, slow, deep breaths. Breathe in for four. Hold for four. Breathe out for eight, Do this 3 times and you will notice how much calmer you feel.
    Plan your response. If you know there are situations, or things your child does, where you are more likely to get annoyed, picture the situation ahead of time, and visualise yourself responding in a calm manner, and dealing with it well. What will you say? How will you act? That way, when your child does something that normally annoys you, you will find yourself responding in a much better way.
    Use what works for you.

The bottom line is, family is more important than anything.

So, during this Coronavirus pandemic think:
What example are you going to set? And how are you going to spend time connecting with the people who matter most in your life?

The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

Need help now? Ready to explore whether investing in some tailor-made parenting sessions would be right for you and your family? Book your FREE 20-minute call with Elizabeth here