Parenting: Behind the Mask

Students at Pentecostal Light and Life Foundation Primary School in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major disruption to the educational system worldwide. As a result, learning institutions were forced to rethink how education is provided to students. Both students and parents have had to adjust to significant daily changes to their routines.

The Division of Education, Innovation and Energy (DEIE) hosted a virtual panel discussion on May 25th themed, “Parenting: Behind the Mask”. The discussion centred on how parents are dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and panelists included School Psychologist Marion Kent, Counseling Psychologist Billie Sterling-Lewis, and Curriculum Officer Kirshorn Cornwall.

During the discussion, DEIE School Psychologist Marion Kent said that stress was a risk factor for parents.

“We see that with the pandemic, many of us appear to be at greater risk than others [at] managing or coping well,” she said. “Stress can be identified as any mental, emotional or physical response to situations; [and] thoughts that cause our minds and our bodies to experience tension. So because of this we may feel frustrated, nervous, anxious, restless or even angry,” Kent said.

Counseling Psychologist Billie Sterling-Lewis indicated that parents had to implement actions that have an encouraging influence on the family.

“Now in the COVID environment, what we have are less options, but many opportunities to revisit the way we’re doing life. To revisit the way we’re raising and dealing with our families,” Sterling-Lewis said, adding that parents and children, “Experience a more positive impact on their health and wellbeing during physical distancing [lockdown] when there is a sense of security in the home.”

Suggestions on how parents can cope during the pandemic included developing daily routines, setting limits or boundaries on activities including social media use, and celebrating any small successes.

The initiative continues on June 1st at 5:00 pm with a programme aimed at teachers, and on June 8th with a programme aimed at students at a time TBD. Join the conversation on Zoom or live via the Division’s Facebook page and Tobago Channel 5. For more information, visit the Division’s page here: