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The kids are not okay

Victorian parents urged to boost family resilience


A free parenting program is helping Victorian parents to protect their children’s long-term wellbeing, as families across the state adapt to tighter COVID-19 restrictions.

Clinical psychologist and youth mental health researcher Dr Vanessa Cobham said the extraordinary disruption and stress was affecting every family in different ways, putting untold pressure on parents and their children.

“Parenting in a pandemic is uncharted territory,” Dr Cobham said. “It’s natural to feel worried, upset or angry, and our children are experiencing a range of emotions too.

“Ongoing outbreaks of the virus and the return to tougher restrictions will be stressful for many families with worries about money, work and mental health.”

Free COVID-19 program

The Victorian Government and Triple P Parenting have launched a free online program, Triple P Online, to provide expert advice and strategies for parents and carers.

Dr Cobham said the courses include a module on navigating the stresses of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Children need our help to tolerate the upheaval and stress, manage their fears and build resilience to deal with the ongoing uncertainty,” she said.

“Some children will take on parental concerns, while others might be worried about remote learning or missing friends and family.

“Without that support, we can expect to see a spike in stress, anxiety and depression, which will stay with families long after the health crisis is over.”

Family stress

Melbourne kindergarten teacher and mother-of-two Lara Wilson said the return to tougher restrictions and remote learning was challenging.

“Our boys responded very differently earlier in the year. 14-year-old Ryder thrived in home-learning without distractions and set up his own gym to keep fit for baseball,” Ms Wilson said.

“But it’s harder for 11-year-old Marley, who misses his friends and teachers. He became withdrawn and unmotivated, so we know that we have to keep him talking and busy this time.

“As a teacher, I’ve seen good and worrying impacts of the shutdown. Many families worked hard to stay connected but others struggled, so Triple P Online is a great resource to share.”

Dr Cobham said family needs were changing as the pandemic progressed.

“The see-sawing focus from health to the economy will take its toll on parents and children. Most people find it hard to deal with uncertainty so, now more than ever, parents need to make sure family and wellbeing are a top priority,” she said.

As a working mother of three, Dr Cobham said she understood how important it was for parents to have realistic expectations of themselves and their children.

“Triple P Online provides useful advice on managing your emotions, taking care of important relationships and keeping healthy,” she said.

“It offers parents the skills to do their best to create a stable, loving home life in uncertain times, and reach out to others to provide support.”

*** Victorian parents and carers of children aged 0-16 can access Triple P Online, including the guide to parenting during COVID-19, for free at triplep.online/victoria.

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