Dr. Devorah Heitner speaks to Mercer Island parents in a virtual presentation on Oct. 14. Zoom screenshot

Dr. Devorah Heitner speaks to Mercer Island parents in a virtual presentation on Oct. 14. Zoom screenshot

Heitner discusses ‘#Pandemic Parenting’ during presentation

Mercer Island Parent Edge holds virtual event.

These are stressful times for parents during a pandemic that’s altered people’s lives over the last eight months.

“This is a situation we really can’t fix for our kids, and many of us have never experienced adversity that we couldn’t ameliorate a little bit ourselves,” Dr. Devorah Heitner, digital media and technology expert, told the attendees at Mercer Island Parent Edge’s virtual presentation, “#Pandemic Parenting: Helping Kids Thrive in Our Digital World,” on Oct. 14.

Heitner — author of “Screenwise” — said that family life can be overwhelming during the pandemic with multiple people sharing the same space. With kids remote learning and parents working from home, there comes a time when everyone needs their own space.

It’s also a time when parents are called upon to sit down with their kids and discuss what’s going on in the world, from the pandemic to the contentious election season to Black Lives Matter.

“We need to give them opportunities to talk about it with us,” Heitner said. “Any time we get the opportunity to ask our kids what they know about the news (do so).”

However, it’s also important to turn off the news for a bit and wind down from those intense broadcasts by reading a book before bedtime, she added. Getting plenty of sleep is also key, since kids need the resilience and immune strength that comes with a solid rest to stay healthy in their growth and development stages.

When the day gets rolling, kids come into their own by self-regulating their situations, like high-schoolers finding their independence or all age groups keeping themselves fed and hydrated in order to perform at their maximum levels.

Kids’ autonomy during the pandemic was another topic that Heitner touched upon during her presentation, which was viewed by parents with children from elementary school to college.

“The pandemic has stripped our kids’ autonomy in huge ways and that’s a move backwards for them. Kids are growing all the time in their development, in their autonomy, in their freedom,” said Heitner, noting that adults are faced with this scenario as well.

Heitner said that parents can remind their kids that everyone’s in this pandemic together. They can also encourage their young ones to make their own choices on the school front, like what they’re writing about, what they’re researching for a project and more.

“Giving kids any kinds of choices right now, including how to be helpful in the community, is really crucial in helping them in their mental health,” Heitner said.

While kids are putting their all into remote learning, it’s also vital that they take a short brain break and go outside to shoot hoops, do pushups or get up from their desk to grab some water, Heitner said.

Outside of school work, Heitner suggested that kids can learn practical skills like fixing the car, cooking or gardening, things that will help them prepare for the real world.

For more information on Mercer Island Parent Edge, visit http://miparentedge.org/

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