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The Challenges of E-learning for Parents & Children

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all schools have been shut down and kids of all ages are staying home learning online. This has brought many challenges to teachers, students, and most unexpectedly, to parents. Today we will talk about key challenges to kids and parents, and some tips for parents to cope with this difficult time.

1. Key challenges for children:

Most children told me there were pros and cons for E-learning, but their main stress came from two sources:

  • The amount of home work.

For those kids who felt the workload was decreased, they were fine with E-learning. For those who got more assignments than before, they suffered the workload and needed more help from parents. This added tension to the parent-child relationship.

  • Parent’s attitude.

Kids are very sensitive to parent’s facial expression, tone of voice, not to mention parent’s scolding, anger or paranoid. They often felt guilty for parent’s negative emotions. This is actually the most important stressor for kids.

What do they miss most?

  • Sports/playing outdoors
  • With friends
Key challenges for parents:

  • Lack of time to handle two jobs, your normal job plus being a home-schooling mom/dad. This is an unexpected responsibility suddenly fell on your laps. No wonder you are not prepared to handle it. When there is frustration, you blame yourself or you blame your kids, your husband, or maybe your dog.
  • You need space or skills to regulate your emotion. There seemed to be no room or skills to help parents process your feelings and needs. Most parents hit two rocks: You either had too much expectation for their children/yourself or you were anxious about your children’s future. Both triggers self-conflicts and hurts your relationships.
2. Tips to cope with the situation:
  • Slow down. It’s a difficult time for you, and for the kids. Let’s slow down and create a more relaxed tempo for your home. Give more time and space for yourself and your family members to adjust to the new situation.
  • Provide a structure. Kids love routine, but for E-learning time, you could be more flexible. For example, one family told me that they allowed kids to go to bed one hour later than usual so that they could spend one-hour watching TV together. They also allow their kids to get up one-hour later in the morning because they don’t need to catch the school bus. Start the day with a good breakfast to set the tone right for the rest of the day.
  • Repair-time or compensation time. Conflicts and tension are normal when parents are more involved with their children’s study now. Therefore, parents need to intentionally create some “repair time” or “compensation time” for their relationship with kids. For example, take your child outdoor in your compound to do sports together or play games indoors. The intentional quality time will help parents bond with their kids and kids are very easy to forgive parents for whatever happened during the day.
  • Self-care. Parents need some time every day to take care of yourself to be a better caretaker. One parent told me that every evening after dinner, they had 1 to 2 hours of free time that parents and children could spend on their own. Then they will have one-hour of family time together to do something that they all enjoy before they go to bed. When the family is together 24/7, we need to have individual time and together time to create a balanced rhythm.
  • Last but not least, no matter how bad the virus is attacking the world, parents can provide a safety harbor for their kids and ensure that life goes on when their family are together. Some parents told me that spring is here, although they could not go out to enjoy the park and see the flowers, they bought plants and flowers home to allow their children enjoy spring and also look forward to summer and fall. I was very moved when I heard these parents’ stories. No matter what happens in the world, when children feel safe and protected by their parents, and most importantly, they don’t feel alone in their struggles, this will guarantee your family a smooth transition in and out of the difficult situation.
Therefore, parents, you are very important to your kids. E-learning is difficult and less effective. Pay attention to your own feelings and needs first. Take care of yourself so that you can be a better care-taker for your children.If you find your emotion is overwhelming and you cannot control it, or your children’s emotional reaction is beyond their control, we mental health professionals at United Family Hospital are available to help. Emotion regulation skills can be learned. Please don’t hesitate to contact us and learn new skills to enhance your parent-children relationship.

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