COVID-19 has impacted lives across the globe. Whether it’s the loss of someone close to you, mental health challenges, or a reduction in your household income, the pandemic one way or another has affected us all.
Children are not an exception. They may not communicate their worries with us or express their feelings like adults, but they are also going through a difficult time. They have missed out on valuable learning time at school and have been unable to socialize with friends as they usually would. They may even be scared of the virus due to the snippets of information that they’ve overheard.
But being forced to slow down has also had a positive impact on children. Kids have had a chance to spend more quality time with their parents and enjoy the benefits of boredom. During the lockdown, they have had to let their imagination run wild more often, thus developing their creativity and inventiveness. And all this learning will serve them when they are grown-ups to make time to slow down, notice small things, and other positive life-long habits.
At this point though, their routine has been modified. And as a parent, you may be concerned about their reservations and how their behavior will change after the quarantine. We are facing life in the new normal, and just like it is challenging for adults, it is also for your little ones.
Now is therefore a good time to reduce screen time, start safely interacting with peers again, and deal with fears acquired during confinement. As a parent, there is so much you can do to foster change in your kids’ behavior and make the transition as smooth as possible:
1. Talk through their worries
Firstly, talk through any worries that your child may have. It’s important to do this in a quiet space, free of distractions. Try and choose a time when any siblings are occupied and unlikely to interrupt so that your child has your full attention. Ask open questions such as ‘how are you feeling about going to the park or back to school?’ to encourage your child to open up to you.
2. Remind them of the positives
You can also help your child by reminding them of what they enjoyed about being out as well as at school. It could be seeing their friends, a particular lesson, or a favorite teacher. Bringing happy memories about school to the front of their mind will make them more eager to return.
3. Normalize the hygiene practices
Ensure that you discuss good hygiene practices with your child, such as handwashing and catching their coughs and sneezes in a tissue. They may be worried about catching the virus when out, which is a valid concern. But you can help by reassuring them that these good hygiene practices will protect both themselves and their friends.
And you can help normalise these hygiene practices even further by highlighting that they are not just relevant now, but are important to know, to stay healthy throughout life.
4. Gradual adaptation
You may want to make contact with some of their closest friends and meet up with a reduced group. If you think your child will find it challenging to start interacting with other children again, you may want to consider the option to catch up through a video call before a physical encounter. A gradual adaptation to going out and seeing other people will make their return to school feel less scary and remind them of the fun times they have together.
5. Talk to educators
It can also be beneficial to talk to professionals in childcare education and people with experience working with children. As they have first-hand experience and know other families’ circumstances, they can give you some valuable insights.
6. Accept some new habits
After spending so much time at home, we have all acquired new habits that we don’t necessarily need to break. If you feel that you should better control your child’s screen time, for example, don’t stress out about it too much. As your children start going out again, these practices will naturally decrease, making space for more positive attitudes.
Most of all, you will want to make sure your child knows that you are there to talk to. Knowing that the person they trust most is there for them is the best reassurance that they can get.
Maria Kennedy is a journalist and freelance content writer. She covers stories on online publications about education, wellbeing, nutrition, women, and innovation. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga and traveling with her husband and kids.
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