SINGAPORE – Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – the acronym Vuca is a buzzword bandied about in management circles, but it aptly describes parenting during the pandemic too, say the experts in an upcoming event.
"The future we thought would happen is now our present. As a parent, it means that all the more we have to empower our children with the necessary mindset and tools to be able to remain adaptable in the face of such massive change," says Ms Sha-En Yeo, 39, an expert in positive psychology who runs a consultancy called Happiness Scientists.
"Instead of buckling down on fear, we can use the pandemic as a huge teaching and learning opportunity for our children," adds the mother of two children aged 11 and six.
She is one of six panellists who will be participating in an online fireside chat titled Parenting In A Vuca World on Saturday.
The event is organised by the Asia Institute of Mentoring, which aims to build a mentoring community across the region.
Ms Yeo and other panellists share some of the strategies that work for them.
1 PUT ON YOUR OXYGEN MASK FIRST
"Safety instructions on aeroplanes insist we put our own oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Likewise, as parents, if we are not physically, mentally and emotionally well, we will not be able to care for the well-being of our loved ones," says Ms Zerlina Sim, 47, a leadership and mindfulness coach who is director of Potential Project Singapore, a leadership, organisational development and research firm.
While some parents may feel they have to put on a brave face, the mother of three children aged 13 to 16 points out that "heightened anxiety and prolonged stress not only reduce mental effectiveness, but are also likely to cause mental health and emotional problems".
She recommends that parents take a short pause during the day to check on their feelings in an honest rather than critical way and remind themselves that they are not alone in their struggles.
Even if they are pressed for time, five to 10 minutes a day practising mindfulness will help them cultivate a resilient mindset, she adds.
If they feel overwhelmed, they should not feel guilty about reaching out to friends, family or community helplines for support.
2 SHARE YOUR STRUGGLES, BUT LISTEN TO THEIRS TOO
Many parents feel lost and do not know how to talk about the pandemic with their kids, Ms Yeo notes.
"In times of change, being able to talk through and share how they feel is really important for children, or else they will come to all kinds of conclusions or be swayed by what they read on the Internet," she says.
Parents' fears could also become their children's fears as they internalise the actions and feelings of adults around them.
"How we respond to this situation is a model for how they would respond should challenges come their way," she adds.
When children share their struggles, Ms Sim suggests that parents use physical cues such as touching their lips to remind themselves not to interrupt or resting a finger under their ear to stay attentive.
"Try not to ignore, judge or dismiss what your child is expressing. Once we fully understand, only then can we help them find solutions," she says.
Parents should also be mindful that teenagers, in particular, "prefer to be understood, not judged, and supported rather than directed".
3 EMPOWER KIDS TO HELP THEMSELVES
Instead of over-scheduling activities for her five children aged three to 14 during the circuit breaker, Ms Junia Tan, 42, gave them space to grow responsibly.Read More – Source