Contributed by – Healthians team
As the whole world is learning to build their lives around social distancing, parents around the world are dealing with challenges unique to them. Helping kids understand social distancing and isolation, abiding by the rules and helping them cope with the repercussions of being alone for such a long time are some issues that parents are dealing with on an everyday basis. Telling and instructing them constantly to practice hygiene, not touch anything, stay at home will only scare them and no parent would want to do that. So the question is – how to make children understand the need and importance of social distancing and how to keep them engaged at home?
Get your child on board by using language they quickly understand
It’s important to paint the picture of what’s going on to your child in such a way that they understand. Personification is the best way. Kids learn about the world around them as good guys and bad guys or superheroes and villains. Make your child see coronavirus as a villain, a tiny villain that jumps on people when they are near them and makes them sick. Only by staying away from each other, they can stop the villain from jumping on them and making them sick.
Tell them what they can do instead of what they can’t do
It’s easier to make your child count all the things that they can’t do – don’t shake hands with people, don’t hug anyone or don’t touch any surface. However, it would be better if you tell them of the things that they can still do, like, Facetime their friends, draw their favorite superheroes, talk on the phone or play video games. It’s important to tell your child of the things that they can do and are still available to them to keep them engaged and to maintain that sense of normalcy.
Do not invalidate their feelings
Children will complain. They will throw tantrums. They will get angry. Do not invalidate their feelings. Instead, agree with them. Tell them yes, the situation is not normal. It’s odd. Tell them you’re missing your friends too. You are also missing grandparents. It’s sometimes better to agree rather than painting a rainbow.
There’s a brighter side, too
There’s always a brighter side. You can reframe their worries. Make them see their grandparents through video calls. Make them play with their friends through online games. Always point out the silver linings. They have all the time now for crafts, watching movies or playing video games – they can do all of that without much restrictions.
Keep them engaged in age-appropriate apps
With proper supervision, keep them engaged in age-appropriate apps like Snapchat, Houseparty and Netflix party. These apps will keep them entertained and connected with their friends at all times. Just make sure the content they are receiving and sharing is appropriate for them. When needed, use parental controls offered by most of these applications.
Involve them in things you do
Involving kids in activities that you do daily or assigning them some tasks around the house can help in multiple ways. Engaging them for longer periods productively, making them more responsible, helping them learn some skills, instilling confidence and sense of achievement. You can assign them tasks like making their bed, setting up the table, dusting, etc. adding a reward or appreciation for a task well done can make them more enthusiastic about learning the skill.
It is an abnormal situation but a sense of normalcy can still be maintained in your child’s life. Make them follow their usual routines. Waking up on set times, school work, some time with their friends in the evening followed by some time with the family.
Encourage offline time as well
Technology has proved to be a saviour during these times; however, spending some time offline is important. Too much screen time is unhealthy, especially for children. Keep your child from getting addicted to it. Promote some offline activities that your child might enjoy. Be it board games or helping you making a new recipe in the kitchen – it’s actually also a fun way to inculcate healthy habits in your child that will go a long way with them.
The coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent lockdown because of it have brought some unprecedented challenges in all of our lives. However, this is also the time when as a parent you can devote time to your child that you earlier couldn’t do.
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