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Heather Douglas
Children Self-care and development

Parenting During a Crisis: Recognise the Challenge, Celebrate Small Wins

The period of isolation and disruption caused by COVID-19 has presented many challenges, not least of which is keeping children occupied and active while at home. Setting small, achievable goals can help, and it’s essential not to be discouraged

Reflection is regarded as a key strength for any coach and coaching process and one that is often undervalued. People generally default to reflecting on their negative actions and how this has impacted on themselves and the participants in their charge. This is true of many parents I know, me included, and particularly in this present climate.

Never before have parents been under so much external pressure to ensure that during this lockdown their little bundles of joy will emerge having mastered several languages, gained a new spiritual hobby and discovered a new-found respect for life and the world they live in.

I have four children ranging from the ages of 11 through to 17. When I reflect, as I have always done daily, I am trying to change my default from thinking about how bad I was at being a mother today to focus instead on the things that my children have that I would not have experienced if this situation had presented itself to us in the 1970s.


My children are lucky enough to still be connected to their friends through phones and gaming consoles. It can never replace face-to-face interactions and the release of break-time at school to let off steam, but it is a start. If I had needed to connect with friends at their age, I would first have had to find the key my parents hid for the strange device that locked the rotating dial on the telephone that was stuck to the wall at the bottom of the stairs! 

Small, achievable goals

Secondly, this period has taught them self-regulation on activity levels. As they are four very active boys, I was very concerned about how they would “let off steam” during this time. However, they seem to be coping with this very well! It has helped that through my experience of being a coach I can set them small, achievable goals throughout the day. 

In my opinion, parents display some of the best coaching characteristics without them knowing that they are doing so. It is never easy to try and get a teenager to do anything that they do not see the immediate value in – this could be school work, tidying up, less screen time etc. – but parents manage this daily through:

  • motivation
  • instruction
  • goal-setting reward and recognition.

Parents should be proud of themselves and what they're achieving, and shouldn't focus on the negatives.

Being active at home

Here at UK Coaching, we have recently developed a series of resources and tips to help keep the household active, including an infographic, Encouraging Children to be Active.

This should be extremely helpful for parents who, like me at the beginning, were worried about constantly watching a pressure cooker of unused energy throughout the day. Whether it is jumping about with Joe Wicks in the morning, badminton in the garden or a daily walk, this is great stuff and should be celebrated. 

Remember, children are very creative, sometimes more so when they are bored – so go with the flow and see what happens."


Are you noticing any changing activity levels in your children? Have you considered prompting them to move more or more vigorously?



I pat myself on the back these days if we can stick to traditional meal times. These times are not normal, and we should not beat ourselves up if some standards slip. Just go with a new, simpler routine that fits with the family at this time. Children are used to having the freedom of a six-week holiday every year and then settling back into a rigorous routine at school, and this should be no different to what we are experiencing now.

Celebrate what you can

Finally, celebrate the time you have. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all happy and stress-free, to the contrary on most days, but we will never get this time back again. It will be a period in our lives that we will look back on and congratulate ourselves for getting through positively.


Find time to reflect on the great times you have and will continue to have in the future – What are the best bits of now and how will you keep them going?


Therefore, I think my main message to parents is to say well done, you are doing a great job, getting your children to be active will always be a positive thing that they can take throughout their lives. Keep going and continue to encourage your children to be active. You’ve got this, you are a coach, celebrate your overlooked skillset and keep coaching. 

Read next

Coaching at Home

We have three infographics providing handy hints and tips for creating great experiences for everyone during this period of isolation and disruption and in the future


Guide for Parents

Information and advice for parents to enable you to better support your children to remain physically active. Includes a top tips infographic and five key resources


Related Resources

  • Six Ways to Successful Goal Setting

  • Eight Steps to Great Coaching Reflection

  • What is Coaching and Why Coach?


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Heather Douglas