It is natural for children to get restless and impatient when they are confined to their houses. This article is aimed to help parents and caregivers to do the most important job in this world during the quarantine.
With school closed, parents working remotely, and physical distancing due to the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, family life has turned upside down around the world. Don’t get us wrong, we are sure you all are enjoying the much-needed family time together, but let's face it, working and parenting antsy kids who are stuck at home is not easy. With no school, no playing with their friends, no cycling around the neighborhood, or going out with you, kids might find adapting to this new routine tough. And parents, we know how difficult it is to manage your professional and personal life with no outside help.
During this difficult time and added pressure, it is normal to lose it more often with your child, and your patience will be pushed to the limits. But, shouting at your kids and punishing them will not be effective and will only raise your blood pressure and stress levels. If you teach them to deal with daily problems in a fun way, your child will listen and cooperate. We have added some playful tips and ways to make new routines that can help parents and caregivers manage this unique situation.
On the contrary to what adults think, young children are highly affected by the present situation. Most children can identify when you are stressed or anxious, and this will reflect on their behavior. They are very sensitive to such changes. The common reactions in children include:
Constant or frequent crying.
Difficulty falling asleep.
Waking up due to nightmares.
Clinging to their parents.
Afraid of being alone.
Keep repeating the things they hear.
May become very aggressive and angry.
Some kids might act younger than they really are.
As kids are not very good at communicating with others, make sure you look for such changes and intervene at the right time.
1. Take out Time From Work for One-On-One Sessions:
You might be stressed and overwhelmed thinking about money, work, etc., but remember that this is also the best time to establish a better relationship with your children. Take out time, even if it is 20 to 30 minutes a day, and play or talk or do whatever they like to do indoors, and make it free and fun for them. This gives them a sense of being loved and makes them feel that they are important.
Make them choose what they want to do with you. Or you can suggest something from the following list:
Sing a song.
Copy their facial expressions.
Help them stack blocks.
Tell them a story.
For children below 10 years of age:
Read them a storybook.
Look through old photos.
Dance to their favorite songs.
Draw and paint with them.
Teach them how to clean their room or cook.
Talk to them about their hobbies.
Discuss things they like, such as sports, music, etc.
Ask them if they spoke to their friends and how they are.
Cook a meal together.
Enjoy family movie time.
The only thing they need is your attention and love. Have fun together!
2. Stay Positive:
Most parents, when they are stressed or if their kids are giving them a hard time, simply shout at them and tell them to cut it out. This is not how it should be, we know it is hard to be positive during such situations, but children are more likely to listen to you if you give them positive instructions. Instead of telling them, “Stop making a mess,” tell them, “Please put your toys away.” And once they do it, make sure you praise them, as it will encourage them to do the right thing and make them feel that they are noticed and cared for.
Shouting will just make you all stressed and angry. Speak in a calm voice and always address them by their names.
It is important for teenagers to stay connected with their peers, so give them some space and time to chat and talk to them. Parents can arrange video chat for kids to connect with their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, so they get to know the extended family better. Avoid prolonged screen time like playing video games or watching TV for hours at a stretch. Try to interact more as a family. Have fun together!
3. Make a New Routine:
It is essential to make a new routine for your kids, so they can adjust to the new environment. This new routine should have a fixed time for different activities and free time. This makes kids feel secured and behave properly. Due to COVID-19, it might be best to make social distancing and hand washing part of their daily routine.
Social distancing - Explain to your child why social distancing is necessary and how it will help in preventing the spread of infections.
Hand hygiene - Let them sing their favorite song and ask them to sing it while they wash their hands. Teach them the proper way to wash their hands with soap and water. For children younger than 8 years, it is better if you supervise their hand washing. Make it a habit to wash hands:
Before and after eating food.
After going to the toilet.
After playing with their toys.
And if their hands are visibly soiled.
You can make it fun by asking them to mark in a chart whenever they wash their hands, and ask them to touch their face less often. Give a star or some reward at the end of the day if they did everything right.
Kids learn from their parents, so they are more likely to follow these if they see you doing the same. So do not forget to wash your hands too!
4. Redirect Bad Behavior:
Most kids misbehave when they are bored, tired, hungry, or afraid. Having to spend the entire day at home will make them extra cranky. The best thing to do is identify what sets them off, so the next time, you can catch it early and redirect their attention. When you see them about to throw a tantrum, get up and ask them to play with you and do something fun.
5. Be Honest About the Virus:
If they have questions about what is happening around the world, make them understand what all this is about. Tell them about the virus and how it spreads and affects people in a way they can understand. But do not scare them.
6. Manage Your Stress:
It is not always about your kid. Take out a few minutes every day to do yoga, meditation, or anything that can help de-stress you. Drink a cup of tea, talk to your friends, etc.
Understand That It Is Fine to Not Know All the Answers
Talk and understand your child, even if you do not have an answer to all their questions. You can tell them that you do not know, or you are working on it or you will find it out or something. You can also ask them to explain things to you, and they will feel proud and smart.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), be as transparent to your children about this pandemic as possible. Here are some answers to questions they might have about the pandemic.
Why can’t I go play with my friends downstairs?
For you and your friends to stay healthy and strong, we have to avoid playing with others. Instead, you can play with me.
Why are you wiping all the surfaces with wipes?
I am wiping them to keep it clean so you can play and roam around freely.
Why is everyone wearing a mask?
People who are sick or can get sick themselves will wear masks when they go out. Once they all feel better, they will stop wearing them.
Why can’t I see daddy?
If the child’s parent is in quarantine, then you can tell that “Dad needs to be away for some days and will come back soon.”
Why can’t I go to school?
The school is closed, and all your friends are home too. You can go to school when they reopen.
Should I wear a mask?
No, as you are home and mama is wiping all the surfaces clean, you do not have to wear a mask. Just keep washing your hands and avoid touching your face too much.
Will I get sick?
You might fall sick, and if you do, we will take care of you and you will feel fine very soon.
Why can’t I kiss or hug grandma?
Your grandma loves you a lot. As she has a cold, she wants to keep you from catching it also. As soon as she feels better, the first thing she will do is hug and kiss you.
Let your kids help you with chores. It will teach them life skills and also keep them busy. Give them tasks according to their age. Make a chart with the things they need to do and stick it on the refrigerator.
At the end of each day, tell your child one or two fun or positive things that they did during that day. This will motivate them for the next day. Stay home, stay safe, and enjoy this time with your kids!
Last reviewed at:
15 Apr 2020 - 6 min read
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