Key Strategies for Raising a Child During a Pandemic
If you feel like your head is spinning with terms like new normal, social distancing, and virtual learning, you’re not alone! Being a parent under normal circumstances can be a constant balancing act. Throw in a global pandemic, and you’re faced with more questions than ever.
How can I comfort my child during these uncertain times?
Is my child really going to wear a mask and social distance?
Extracurricular activities are out for now – how do I keep my child busy and active?
E-learning? While I work from home?
The good news? There are some simple strategies to address these problems that so many parents are faced with.
Communication is Key
Help your child stay positive by communicating comforting words. Kids are perceptive from a young age, and can often read emotions that parents may be feeling. Try keeping a positive attitude around your child. Asking specific questions can help start a discussion about your child’s emotions, attitudes, and fears surrounding the Coronavirus. Try using conversation starters like, “I’m sure it feels different wearing a mask at school this year”. Set aside a quiet time like car rides or bedtime to have these talks.
Communicate to improve cooperation! Children are often pulled here, there, and everywhere. The more they feel out of control, the more behavior challenges they can have. Talk to your child before and during an outing to help them understand what to expect.
Before: Let your child know where you will be going. Talk about whether he or she will need to wear a mask and any other special precautions you’ll be taking.
During: Give praise! Comment to your child on specific things he or she is doing well.
Rely on Routines
The Coronavirus has resulted in many parents feeling like they are living in (semi)controlled chaos. One very important solution to this? Rely on routines to provide a sense of predictability and structure. Maintaining routines that your family established prior to the current pandemic, and even adding in some new ones, can be a life saver for both you and your children!
Research shows that routines can help mothers feel more competent and satisfied in their parenting role. Also, that the burden of change may be reduced and children can be better equipped to cope with transitions. Happy parents and happy children amidst a global pandemic – all by sticking to some basic household routines!
Routines might look differently depending on your parenting style and family’s needs, but bedtime is a good place to start. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time that he or she did before the pandemic began. Keep a routine such as bath, books, brush teeth, and bed.
You’re simultaneously cleaning up your toddler’s toys while dinner cooks in the oven, and the dishwasher still needs to be emptied. Sound familiar? The kids might be around the house more right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to hand over their tablets or find other ways to entertain them while you complete household tasks. Get everyone involved!
Not only can involving children in household tasks help ensure you maintain an efficient home, but it can also benefit their language and cognitive development! Helping with chores can even give children a sense of confidence. Kids of all ages can help on some level.
Involving toddlers: Give your child simple tasks like putting toys in a designated toy box to improve their comprehension skills. Invite your child to help prepare dinner! Narrate aloud what you are doing (e.g., “First, I’m washing the vegetables.”) to help your child learn vocabulary and how to order words to form sentences. Ask your child to do things like pour an ingredient in a bowl or mix with a spoon and encourage him or her to describe what they are doing.
Involving school-aged children: Asking your school-aged child to help with tasks like putting dishes away can improve his or her cognitive skills such as organization, categorization, and attention. Older children can help out (and develop auditory processing/sequencing skills) by following several steps you give them to complete a task. For example, taking the laundry out of the dryer, folding it, then putting it away.
This printable age-by-age chore chart is perfect for finding the right job for kids of all ages to help out with.
Take Advantage of Telehealth
If you have concerns with your child’s development, take advantage of telehealth! We are so fortunate to live in this time of advanced technology. If your child is having difficulty in areas such as communication, you can still seek help through this convenient and effective approach. A speech-language pathologist can evaluate your child and provide therapy, including giving you tips on how to work with your child without you having to leave your home. TherapyWorks provides pediatric speech, occupational, and physical therapy, and social work services via teletherapy, and can match your child with a therapist based on their unique needs.