COVID-19 and Family Tension: How to Manage Conflict in the Household
When social distancing measures went into effect, families found themselves cooped up in their homes. Schools and childcare closed, so parents must look after their kids 24/7, on top of their household and professional duties.
The pandemic has caused significant distress for many families. Apart from the fear of contracting the coronavirus, parents are anxious about their financial and food security, among other things.
Household Concerns amid the Pandemic
Below are some concerns parents have expressed since the pandemic started:
- Financial and job insecurity, especially since the lockdown unemployed more than 14 million Americans
- Loss of access to child care
- Loss of access to low-cost healthy meals provided by schools
- Significant reduction in social support and respite care
- Increase in spousal conflict (31.3 percent), parent-child conflicts (56.4 percent), and overall household conflict (58.4 percent)
Parents, especially of young children, need to manage the household’s emotional health. High levels of conflict in families can increase the child’s risk of developing emotional, behavioral, and social problems.
Here are some ways to minimize the tension within your family during these uncertain times:
Create healthy opportunities to be apart
Being with other people can be draining, even if they’re your family. When you’re tired, you don’t have a firm grip on your emotions, leading to unwanted outbursts.
It’s normal to want some time apart. If your spouse or children wants to be alone, don’t see it as a rejection. Recognize that people need solitude to recharge and regroup. Some people may need it more than others.
You can go on a walk by yourself, meditate, work out, or take a trip to the grocery store for some alone time.
Don’t punish your kids for expressing their emotions
Don’t get mad at your child for expressing how they feel. Let them shout or cry when they’re frustrated. It’s better to have them release their emotions instead of keeping these feelings buried inside.
Once your child has calmed down, talk to them calmly. Ask them what they’re feeling and why they did what they did. You can then suggest activities they can do the next time they feel that emotion, like counting to ten or taking three deep breaths.
This way, your child becomes familiar with the different emotions they feel, teaching them to handle uncomfortable feelings. Raising a mentally strong child isn’t about repressing emotions. Mentally strong kids recognize emotions and choose healthy ways to cope.
Our emotions sometimes get the better of us. You might say harsh words that hurt your family. And these instances are likely to increase during such a tense, stressful time.
When you catch yourself doing these things, take a deep breath, and stop. Take a few minutes to calm down, then apologize to your family. Communicate with your spouse about what you’re feeling. Make amends with your children by spending some fun, quality time with them.
If the level of tension within your household is too high for these simple methods, it’s best to seek a professional’s help. Many social services and private practices offer teletherapy services during the pandemic.
Mental Health Support Services in Connecticut
The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) in Westport offers comprehensive mental health services. Our telehealth therapy services help you and your family navigate your way through emotional, behavioral, mental challenges.
Contact us via email or phone to schedule an appointment.