How To Successfully Parent In A Global Pandemic

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

With families finding themselves in close quarters for such an extended period of time, stress levels are on the rise. In fact, during this quarantine incidences of child abuse have seen a significant rise. Simply put, many parents and children alike don’t know what to do in this unfamiliar situation. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen give you some important strategies and techniques to bring some sanity into the household.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr Daniel Amen: Hey everybody.
Tana Amen: Hey everybody.
Dr Daniel Amen: Parenting during a pandemic. I never thought I would be-
Tana Amen: In our lifetime.
Dr Daniel Amen: -Doing this video.
Tana Amen: No.
Dr Daniel Amen: But it's so important. And what triggered this was a report out of Texas that child abuse has gone up significantly. And Tana and I were both horrified by that, and we thought we just absolutely have to do this video for you. And then we'll answer questions as we can. So it's on my Facebook page, on Tana's Instagram-
Tana Amen: Sorry, I had a little delay. So we're doing a parenting during a pandemic. So yeah, it's been a little crazy for everybody.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's nice to see you.
Tana Amen: Nice to see you too. You've been so busy. I've been busy.
Dr Daniel Amen: Busy during a pandemic.
Tana Amen: Right?
Dr Daniel Amen: But we're going to talk about parenting. And I'm actually going to give you, we are going to give you, eight strategies on how to stay sane for yourself and to help them during [crosstalk 00:02:15].
Tana Amen: Because they're having trouble being a little bit sane right now. They're acting a little different. I have noticed, we have really, really good kids and they behaved a little differently than I was ... But then if you step back, it's like well yeah, this is a really weird time. Kids, people, are behaving differently. So you have to understand where they're coming from and then react accordingly.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, it's a historic time. We are all going to remember this for the rest of our lives. And when we come out of this two months from now, six months, whatever it is, we just want to be proud of ourselves. And we want to make sure it's a time that matters in their life in a good way rather than in a stressful or- [crosstalk 00:03:04].
Tana Amen: Well, and that they learned something. Because like we've had our 9/11, we've had our stressful times if you've lived 50 years or more on the planet.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well just growing up in your household was stressful.
Tana Amen: Growing up in my household, right. Having cancer and being through 9/11, and we've had those opportunities to go, "Oh, okay, this is a really stressful thing." And figure out how to react to the first time it happened for me I didn't react very well, right. But they haven't had that yet. And so this is their sort of first time and it's a big thing.
Dr Daniel Amen: So when you think of parenting during a pandemic, step number one is you got to know what you want. What's the goal? I mean, I say this to my patients all the time, "What's the goal?" What do you want as a parent, and what do you want for your children? And so as a parent, I want to be present, so important during this anxious time. I want to be present. I want to be kind. I want to be helpful. I want to be thoughtful. And I don't want to make it so easy they don't learn anything or they become too dependent.
Dr Daniel Amen: What do you want as a parent?
Tana Amen: And so my goals through this are to really think about the big picture, to think about my relationship with them, bonding, teaching them to be responsible. Responsibility is my favorite word, you know that. So most of our people know, the ability to respond. And taking responsibility for me is an empowering thing because when I take responsibility, it makes me feel empowered so that I don't panic, right? So when things are going weird, I feel empowered and I don't panic then. And so teaching them that strategy, it's like, "Oh, you're scared right now. What can we do that will eliminate that feeling? What can we do to mitigate that feeling?" That's one of the things.
Tana Amen: And that really helps me when I focus on that because if I'm focused on my bonding with them, my relationship with them and on teaching them, it's easier to let some of the little stuff go. I mean, come on, we're all trapped in a house together, right? And so our normal routines are messed up. It's easy to get really annoyed. And so focusing on your goal helps you to let stuff go easier, I think.
Dr Daniel Amen: And then the second part of number one is, so-
Tana Amen: We've got Germany on.
Dr Daniel Amen: -know what you want. And then well what do you want for them? What kind of children do you want to raise? Do you want to raise entitled, spoiled children, children who blame, children who take no responsibility, or do you want to raise empowered children? So I want to raise children who feel good about themselves as part of the family, as part of society. And I also want to raise honest, competent kids. Because the more competent ... And what you've been doing lately is you've been really helping them be competent by helping them.
Tana Amen: Well when I-
Dr Daniel Amen: So when you think about what you want for Chloe or [inaudible 00:06:18], or [inaudible 00:06:19], what do you want for them?
Tana Amen: So exactly what you said; I want them to not be entitled or spoiled. I don't want them thinking about just themselves during this thing, 'cause when people get scared, they get fearful. You know, the first weekend that this all happened before everything really hit the fan, within a two hour period I went to the grocery store, saw an elderly woman get pushed down, and literally crack her skull open. There's blood everywhere. No one would get near her. So of course I went over and tried to help and they wouldn't let me come near her and help. Just because of my trauma nurse training I tend to jump into stuff like that. And so they're like, you need to stay back. And so they called 911, thank god, 911 was there or I would have tried harder to [inaudible 00:06:55] they were walking through the door.
Tana Amen: But I saw that happen. Fistfight at the gas station. Chloe ended up seeing a fist fight happen there. Went into the pharmacy, saw the pharmacist get threatened because they didn't have his medication. And saw a guy walk in and just lose it and start singing opera. And they try to get him to stop and he's like, "Can't I just sing?" And he just like lost it.
Tana Amen: And this is in a neighborhood where, people have this tendency to say nothing bad happens here because it's just a really nice place. And this is where I don't want our kids to do. I don't want them to have that attitude. Like one stressor happens and they lose it, and they start behaving in a way that later they're not going to be proud of. And what I say I did, I sat them down and I said, look, they started to kind of freak out too when they saw everybody else freaking out, initially. That first weekend they started like, "Oh my god, what's happening? What do you mean we can't see our friends? We didn't do anything wrong." I mean there was all this chaos. And so we sat them down and we had a really good family talk about it. And one of the things I said was, "You don't get to control this. It doesn't matter whether you like it or not you're in it. You're in it. But you do get to control how you behave. And at the end of this thing, you get to control what kind of person you were going through it." That's all you get to control right now. Right? We get to control how we behave. We get to control the decisions we make right now.
Dr Daniel Amen: So someone wants to know what you're drinking.
Tana Amen: I've been drinking it every day. I'm not kidding about building my immunity right now. This is like really-
Dr Daniel Amen: Someone who's had cancer three times, this is-
Tana Amen: I'm not joking. So I've been a little bit complacent after having a hysterectomy. This really like lit a fire under me.
Dr Daniel Amen: So what is that?
Tana Amen: This is lemon water with ginger, cayenne, and one teaspoon of Manuka honey. It's supposed to build your immunity and fight allergies.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right. So step number one is, know what you want for yourself and for your children. Really important. And then whenever you go to say anything, whenever you go to do anything, you just ask yourself, does it fit? Does it fit the goals I have as a parent? And does it fit the goal I have for the children?
Dr Daniel Amen: So step number one, what do you want? Does your behavior get you what you want? Step number two, bonding. Because if you are not ... I wrote this book a long time ago called Healing the Hardware of the Soul. And in it there's a chapter I love, how to make your child a Democrat, a Republican, or anything you want. And do you know how to do that? This is where the whole lecture here, is you bond with them. If you're bonded to your children, they're going to pick your values. If you're not bonded to your children, they will pick the opposite of your values.
Dr Daniel Amen: So 1972, I turned 18, and I was not bonded with my dad. He and I were sort of like this the whole time. I mean I really never saw him unless I went to work. And then, you know, work he wasn't my dad he was my boss, and it wasn't good. And so presidential election, I told him I was going to vote for McGovern and he said if I voted for McGovern the country would go to hell. The country did go to hell, but had nothing to do with McGovern. But it was the lack of bonding, which is why initially I didn't pick his values.
Dr Daniel Amen: But if you want to influence your children, you first have to have a relationship with them. And bonding requires two things; time-
Tana Amen: Which you have a lot of right now.
Dr Daniel Amen: -actual physical time. And listening. If you're talking over your kids, if you're telling them how to think, if you're not listening to them, you will not have a relationship with them. So I have an exercise I love, developed it three decades ago called special time. 20 minutes a day do something with each of the children that the kids want to do. And during that time, no questions, no directions, no criticism. Just listen during that time, 20 minutes a day, special time. Changes relationships.
Tana Amen: Well right now we have so much extra time. It's funny, I don't have a lot of time as far as I'm busy, right? I'm bleaching floors, I'm cooking everything by hand because you know, I mean start from scratch. And actually it's been challenging because they don't have your normal ingredients. But it's also been fun, because we've been improvising with everything and we've come up with some really cool stuff and I've gotten the kids involved so they now have ownership of like the kitchen and getting them involved and spending time. But during all of those things, I'm getting them involved and teaching them to responsibility, not only for their health but their community.
Tana Amen: And so that's a really important thing is taking responsibility not just for you, but thinking more global than that. Thinking bigger than that. So we are all in this together and we need to think like that.
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