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Ask the Expert: Finding Balance While Parenting with Sharon Selby

The past few months have been challenging, especially if you have children at home. For those trying to balance the many demands of parenthood during this difficult time, this week’s Ask the Expert session was an opportunity to find answers. We invited Sharon Selby, Registered Clinical Counsellor and Certified Parent Facilitator, to share advice. She has been counseling children, teens, and families for the last twenty years and accumulated over 11,000 clinical hours supporting children, teens and families experiencing diverse challenges such as anxiety, self-regulation, low self-esteem, and behavior concerns. She obtained her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and has post-graduate training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – the “gold standard” for anxiety treatment, as well as being a Certified Parenting Facilitator. Her parenting framework combines Adlerian Parenting Theory with Attachment Parenting Theory. She is also the author of Surfing the Worry Imp’s Wave ~ Empowering Children (Ages 5-10yrs) to Understand and Overpower Anxiety. Her popular weekly blog addresses parenting concerns in the areas of attachment, anxiety, resilience, behavior, self-regulation, and play. Her website is www.SharonSelby.com.

Here are the highlights from our webchat with Sharon Selby. Please keep in mind all user participation is anonymous.

Balancing roles during COVID-19 lockdown

QUESTION — “Our son is having difficulty with us having two roles: Parents and Teachers. What do we do? He is 8 years old.”

Sharon Selby — “This is very common and also probably a reflection that he’s trying to adapt and adjust to all the changes that the lockdown measures have created.  I would recommend that you and your partner sit down with your son and ask him to tell you his feelings or draw out his feelings.  Then, validate his feelings and his perspective.  This doesn’t mean that you agree with everything, it just means that you hear and understand what it’s like to be him.  Then you can share your perspective.  I call this ‘Feelings First, Logics Last’.  The key point is that he needs to feel heard first.  As a family, you can then brainstorm ideas as to how to make this new arrangement work and remind him that it is just for now and won’t always be this way.”

Conveying work-from-home needs to a partner

QUESTION — “Since I’ve started working from home my husband doesn’t see me as ‘working’ anymore. How do I communicate that even though I’m at home, doesn’t mean my 8 hours at work is not time to be doing work with the house and the kids?”

Sharon Selby — “It sounds important for you and your husband to have a heart to heart talk.  Explain how you are feeling and your perspective.  He will also have his own feelings and perspective.  You will both need to listen and truly try to understand each other’s perspectives and then work to finding common ground in the middle.  The Netflix show Call to Courage with Brene Brown is a short, but excellent talk about sharing our own stories and listening to our partner’s story as well.  It may be that both you and your husband need to make some changes during this pandemic, but they won’t be forever. It may be that you’re in an area where you are now allowed to hire a teen to help look after your kids…  It takes some thinking ‘outside the box’ to work from home and meet the children’s needs etc., but if you and your husband can brainstorm together, hopefully, you’ll come up with a plan.”

Helping teens maintain social ties

QUESTION — “My teenagers are missing out on socialization due to isolation. They don’t use social media, so not being able to see their friends is really hard. I’ve encouraged video calling and chatting/texting, but the drive is gone. I’ve noticed that their energy and motivation have gone down and they resort to isolating in their room now. Peer-to-peer socialization is so important as a teen and I’m worried that they will become depressed and lose all motivation (even getting up is a chore!). Thanks for your help.”

Sharon Selby — “I wonder if you’re allowed to invite a couple of friends over to your backyard or driveway yet?  I know lots of teens who are meeting up in driveways with camping chairs and sitting six feet apart to socialize.  If not, you could suggest that they arrange to do some cooking or baking online with a friend.  If they like card games, there are some other online games and I suggest some in this article: https://www.sharonselby.com/tag/pandemic-activities.

You could also suggest that they go for a social distance walk with a friend – perhaps you have family friends and you could all go for a socially distant walk.  This is also a time to reach out to others in need.  If they like to do art or sew, they could create cards for seniors or sew masks.”

Don’t miss our next Ask the Expert session!

If you weren’t able to catch our webchat with Sharon Selby, you can always sign in to your LifeSpeak account to read the transcript. And be sure to log on July 22, 2020 at 12PM EST to chat with Director of Sleep and Depression Laboratory, Dr. Colleen Carney, who will be answering your questions about getting your best sleep. If you don’t have a LifeSpeak account, please have your HR team reach out to us about your company subscribing.

What is Ask the Expert?

Our Ask the Expert sessions allow our users to have regular access to our experts in real-time, which allows them to have their pressing questions answered. This opportunity provides our users with practical and easily implemented tips to help them make real changes in their lives. To learn more, don’t hesitate to book a walk-through.