2020 has been an unprecedented time. Coronavirus has brought lockdowns, restrictions, anxiety, precautions into our lives. There is a lot on everyone’s plate, especially if you are a parent – managing the house, working from home, following precautions, and doing everything in your capacity to channelize the energy of your young, restless children, the work never really ends.
Are children affected by COVID-19?
Children are dealing with this pandemic in their own way. A complete change of their routine, schools shut down, picking up bits and pieces of information from television and conversations, fear of infections, getting clingy to parents, COVID-19 hasn’t been easy on them too.
The need for mindful parenting has never been more evident. It is time for families to have honest conversations, cultivate curiosity, patience, and build a balanced relationship.
Here are a few life skills which the parents can instill among children during COVID-19 era –
1. Create an educational and fun filled routine
Schools offer children a sense of normalcy and scheduled learning. With no schools, it is easy for them to feel bored and lazy.
Create a routine for children which includes studying, fun and playtime, reading, or any other interest they have. Make learning fun and use everyday situations to help them develop their mental and emotional capacity.
Create a dedicated learning space for them to help them focus better. If they don’t have their own room, their study desk works equally well.
While it is important to follow the routine, it is equally essential to assess their mood and needs. If you feel your child is getting restless with online learning sessions, offer them a more active option (or the other way round). Don’t shy away from involving them in the daily chores. Not only it will help develop motor skills but also teach them to be helpful and kind.
2. Have the patience to not spoon feed them
With parents multitasking through COVID-19, it’s understandable if they have less patience or time to teach children. But it doesn’t mean that they spoon feed the child and don’t allow them to make mistakes. While parents may be saving a few minutes here, they will end up hampering the critical learning skills of the child.
Begin with smaller learning sessions, which work well with your and the child’s schedule, and slowly progress towards longer sessions. Use this coronavirus lockdown to make learning fun and help children develop patience and resilience.
3. Talk about money
One of the life skills that we all need is understanding money. Amidst the panic buying during coronavirus, teach children about basic budgeting – money, food, groceries, anything.
Encourage conversations with the elderly in the house/family to help children understand the changing value of money with time and the importance of saving. Give them fun activities like how many combinations of coins will make, say $5.60.
If they are a little older and get an allowance, encourage them to write their expenses. This pandemic is the right time to help them develop a positive relationship with money.
4. Teach online safety
Thanks to digital platforms, even the lockdown restrictions couldn’t hamper the children’s learning and socializing. Having said that, the internet comes with its own risks. Talk to children about the importance of privacy, boundaries, and behavior. Tell them not to share personal pictures and information without consulting you. Use parental control to ensure they are exposed to age-appropriate content. In case of cyber bullying or any other inappropriate incident, talk to the concerned local authorities right away.
5. Encourage them to be honest about their feelings
Missing school, play dates, trips – A child during lockdown is bound to feel anxiety, stress, and other big emotions. Don’t be surprised if one moment they are happy, and having a meltdown in another.
Encourage them to observe and accept their feelings and deal with it as gracefully as they can. Don’t set impossible behavior standards for them. Remember they are humans and can have bad days too. If the parents see the child alienating or bottling up the feelings, help them by either scheduling a conversation with a friend or encouraging them to maintain a journal. Take them outside for a run, or a bike ride to help them clear their mind.
Remember children have the same emotions as us. We need to be kind and loving towards them especially during these chaotic times. For more tips for parents navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, visit UNICEF’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) guide for parents.