Welcome to Mindful Brains & Mighty Hearts!
Join Kingsley's Student Support all-stars Madelin Cerullo and Megan Swift as they delve into topics relevant to parenting, education, and mindfulness—in ourselves and our children.
Parenting in a Pandemic with Dr. Kelly Fradin
Dr. Kelly Fradin joins us from New York where she is a practicing pediatrician, as well as a parent. Dr. Fradin focuses on chronic medical conditions and school health, in her practice. This experience has made Dr. Fradin uniquely capable to speak to parents honestly about the struggles and opportunities of parenting during a pandemic.
Dr. Fradin recently published a book titled Parenting in a Pandemic which has been well-received during this difficult year. Our Kingsley Parent Bookclub decided on this book as our first read of the school year. We're thrilled to be able to connect with the author and explore some of the ideas included in the writing.
Take a look at some of Dr. Fradin's best insights from the interview, and listen to the complete audio by clicking the link!
Dr. Fradin's Top Quotes
On prioritizing your mental health:
"One piece of background information [for the book] is about the toll that stress takes on us, both as parents and on our children. We know that the feelings of constantly having to be vigilant, whether it's about distancing or sanitizing, those feelings can cause anxiety that spills over into other parts of our lives.
It can impair our sleep, and really impair our well-being in that way. Understanding that toll that it can take on you is important... If we don't take care of our mental health needs, we won't be able to take care of the needs of the family."
On vaccine development:
"The truth of the matter is that this vaccine has been in development for over thirty years. The whole concept was to create a template, so that when a pandemic arose, you could plug in the virus 'code' and generate protection."
"These mRNA vaccines have a real advantage when it comes to speed of development and safety. What it does: RNA is a code for the protein that your body can use. It doesn't change your genetics. It just creates one tiny piece of the virus—it can't give you the virus."
On dealing with troubling news:
"When you see these headlines pop up with these big concerns, it's best to kind of wait a couple of days before you really start to worry, because these headlines tend to be alarmist in nature."
On deciding to take a new vaccine:
"I think that a lot of people are nervous or hesitant, and that's natural. But, you're going to get more information, and you're going to have an opportunity to be counseled by a healthcare professional before you make the decision, so I would encourage people to stay open-minded if they are hesitant."
On the 2021-2022 school year:
"I think a lot of people are hoping that next school year will just be like a normal school year. I have to be honest that I'm not that optimistic for that possibility. If you look at what the vaccine companies are estimating, best-case scenario, the number of vaccines they'll be able to produce, they're talking as many as 20 million doses a month, but it's a two-dose vaccine.
So, roughly speaking, we would need two-thirds of our communities to be vaccinated before we could just ignore the risk of transmitting the virus in school and work settings. I don't think we are going to hit that by September, realistically. So, I've been preparing my own children for the idea that next school year might look pretty similar to this year."
"It bears repeating that a 4-year-old is at 100 times lower risk than a 40-year-0ld. So, there is a reason that the vaccine is being pushed out to adults first."
On dealing with COVID-19 in the media:
"There's so much about Coronavirus right now. Even if you're monitoring your kids' access to news or newspapers, they're hearing it on radio ads and all sorts of other popular media forms. They're hearing a lot of messages from their friends about Coronavirus. And some of it may not be the kind of content you would choose for them to hear. The nuance can kind of get lost."
"One of the things I recommend is having a family-meeting style check-in once every week or two where you have an open-ended conversation to see what's on the mind of your child."
"Once you have a sense of your child's needs, you can address your messaging more toward them specifically. I think children who are on the more anxious side might need a lot more reassurance, and more discussion of it in their daily lives."
"I'd really encourage parents to try to shift it from a conversation about 'safety' and 'preventing death' to a conversation about being valuable community members, and taking precautions to help others."
"I think we have an opportunity to use this as a way to teach what kind of children we want our children to be. What values matter to us. At a time when so many people are struggling, what can we do to help? We can mask, we can distance, and we are making sacrifices, and it's hard, but we're doing it for the right reasons."
"I think there is some power in the basics that we can kind of forget... Things as simple as good sleep hygiene can make a big difference in how you're doing. We also know that eating the right foods—if you get hungry, your body can feel more on edge, and jittery, and anxious—remembering to prioritize your own nutrition is important. And avoid some of those toxic habits like overdoing the caffeine."
"Moving your body is a really natural way to help with your stress level and it even boosts your immune system. So, even when the weather is bad, finding a way to work up a sweat, for you and your kids, can be really helpful to your mental health.
"If your children are struggling, you don't have to be the only one to fix it, just because you're the only one there. There are other resources."
"People think self-care is... 'Mommy is gonna do an hour of yoga and then go to the spa,' and we know, nobody has time for that. What does matter, is eating... sleep in particular. We could probably all use a little more sleep. That can really help you process your stressors better and have less anxiety.
Sleep can also be amazing if your children are having behavior issues, or if they're having trouble with coping with all of the changes in their lives. Prioritizing and protecting that sleep, sometimes by managing the screens—getting them out of the bedroom at night can be really important."
It was a pleasure to have Dr. Kelly Fradin as our first ever Mindful Brains & Mighty Hearts podcast guest. Dr. Fradin shared a wealth of knowledge, gleaned over a career as a physician, as well as her own experiences as a parent.
Dr. Fradin's book Parenting in a Pandemic is full of valuable tips and insights. We encourage everyone to check out her book, and listen to her full comments in the podcast recording.
Stay tuned for our next episode!