Positive Parenting Strategies for Navigating COVID-19
Scheduling extracurricular activities, attending school functions, and timing morning car line drop-offs are thoughts that used to fill parents’ heads. Now, it’s convincing their child to wear a mask, wondering how to enjoy the park while social distancing, and applying hand sanitizer after their child’s every touch. Who would’ve thought?
Nobody could’ve predicted parents would be faced with these concerns. And let’s be honest, when it comes to your child’s safety and wellbeing, these issues are not to be taken lightly. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased worries and feelings of anxiety for many parents. Now, here’s the good news. There are specific, positive approaches that parents can use to tackle the challenges of the pandemic to ensure they (and their children) adjust to this “new normal” and become even stronger!
Make Masks Fun!
Masks have become an everyday item to wear for many children. For some, masks are required in order to attend school. Other outings and activities might now be a possibility if your child will wear a mask. Masks could be viewed as strange or uncomfortable for many children. Here’s how to put a positive spin on them.
Provide choices. Giving choices in which mask to wear can help your child feel a sense of control, and therefore improve his or her cooperation with wearing one.
Find fun patterns. As months of the Coronavirus have passed, masks have become widely available. They come in just about every size, color, and pattern. Take advantage of this! Shop in stores, online, or from local buyers for designs that match your child’s interests. If your child is a Spiderman fanatic, get him excited with a Spiderman mask! Let your child have a role in picking out a mask they like and he or she will be more likely to put it on when necessary.
Choose your words wisely. Keep your language positive when talking to your child about wearing a mask. Instead of saying that he or she has to wear a mask, talk about it as if it’s just a part of your new routine. Saying things like, “We’re going to the store, let’s put our masks on!” or “You get to wear a mask, just like a superhero!” can help your child keep a positive outlook on mask wearing.
Play pretend. Engage in pretend play at home with your child and put masks on dolls and stuffed animals. This gives him or her some exposure to masks in a fun scenario and it can be an opportunity to start a discussion about your child’s feelings on wearing one.
Soothe Fears with Social Stories and Positive Praise
Social stories have pictures and can be read with your child to explain what will happen during a social event. Download a social story based on your child’s age. Talk about what the Coronavirus is and what precautions you are going to take while out of the house. When children know what to expect, they are often more comfortable and cooperative when the event happens!
Once you’re out, give your child positive and specific praise to reinforce their behaviors. At the park, comment by saying things like, “I like how you stayed safe by keeping a little space between you and the other kids!”.
Singing and Sanitizing
You’ve always encouraged your child to wash their hands and it’s sometimes been a struggle. But now we’re washing more often than ever. And sanitizing. A lot. How do you slow down your busy child to make sure their hands stay germ-free?
Sing a song. Sing or play a song on your phone to help keep your child’s attention as they wash their hands for 20 seconds as recommended by the CDC. This turns what could be an annoyance to your child into its own fun activity!
Sanitize with sweet smells. Choose a variety of sweet-smelling hand sanitizer for your child to use while out. Again, presenting choices in which one he or she wants to use can help keep this a positive part of your child’s routine. Giving your child a sense of independence is a good idea, so let them have their own hand sanitizer to keep on a fun keychain!
Seek Help as Needed
While following these steps, if concerns come up about your child’s comprehension or communication skills, it may be best to seek help. TherapyWorks offers evaluations for Speech Therapy and other pediatric services via teletherapy.
The pandemic has given parents some extra, daunting tasks. But remember to stay positive and that will reflect on your child’s behaviors!