Today we are celebrating the global day of parents, and indeed these are one of the most uncertain times for families. Below are some expert tips on how to parent during COVID-19 and the current pandemic.
1. How to talk about COVID-19
Be willing to talk. They will already have heard something. Silence and secrets do not protect our children. Honesty and openness do. Ask yourself, how well you have supported your children when it comes to talking to them about what has been going on. You know your child best so keep it age-appropriate and tell them only how much they need to know.
It is OK not to know the answers. It is fine to say “We don’t know, but we are working on it, or we don’t know, but we think.” Use this as an opportunity to learn something new with your child!
2. Prioritize one-on-one time
Schools closed? Worried about money? It is normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
This is a chance to make better relationships with our children and teenagers. One-on-One time is free and fun. It makes children feel loved and secure and shows them that they are important.
Below are some ideas on how parents can spend time with their children, so today as we celebrate the global day of parents, choose the best way to connect with your children.
How to spend one-on-one time your baby/toddler
- Copy their facial expression and sounds.
- Sing songs, make music with pots and spoons.
- Stack cups or blocks.
- Tell a story, read a book or share pictures.
Ideas for how to spend one-on-one time your young child
- Read a book or look at pictures.
- Make drawings with crayons or pencils.
- Dance to music or sing songs!
- Do a chore together – make cleaning and cooking a game
- Help with school work.
And Ideas with your teenager
- Talk about something they like: sports, music, celebrities, friends.
- Cook a favourite meal together.
- Exercise together to their favourite music.
- Watch a movie, or show together.
3. Learn through play
While children are at home, they can continue learning through play. This is something that can be fun for all ages! Learning is not only academic. Below are different types of games you can play, across different ages.
Create a dance choreography to your children’s favourite songs. One person does a dance move and everyone else copies. Everyone takes turns being the leader.
“Challenge” who can do the most toe touches – jumping jacks, windmill toe touches in a minute.
“Mirror” each other: facial expressions, movements, sounds. One person can start as the leader and then switch. Try it with no leaders!
Freeze dance: Play music or someone sings a song and everyone dances. When the music stops, everyone must freeze. The last person still dancing becomes the judge for the next round.
Animal dance: Same as above but when the music stops, call out the name of an animal, and everyone has to become that animal.
You can make up a new story together starting with “Once upon a time…” Each person adds a new sentence to the story.
Everyone can act out a favourite story or movie – older children can even direct younger ones while learning responsibility.
Change the object
Everyday household items like brooms, mops or scarves can become fun props for games. Place an object in the centre of the room and whenever someone has an idea, they jump in and show the rest what the object can be.
For example, a broom might become a horse or a microphone or even a guitar!
Play a post-COVID-19 game
First-person says, “When COVID-19 lockdown ends, I am going to… (e.g., go to the park)”.
The second person adds to the first person, “When COVID-19 lockdown ends, I am going to the park and… (e.g., visit my best friend)”.
Each person adds to the previous trying to think of all of the fun things to do when COVID-19 lockdown ends.
Singing songs to your baby helps to develop language.
Play or sing a song, and the first one to guess it right becomes the next leader.
Make up a song about handwashing or physical distancing. Add dance movements!
4. Prioritize online safety
Children and teens are now spending a lot more time online. Being connected helps them reduce the impact of COVID-19 and encourages them to continue with their lives…but it also presents risks and dangers.
Protect your child online with some of the following steps –
- Set up parental controls.
- Turn on SafeSearch on your browser.
- Set up strict privacy settings on online apps and games.
- Cover webcams when not in use.
- Help your children learn how to keep personal information private, especially from strangers – some people are not who they say they are!
As a family, you want to create healthy and safe online habits. Involve your child or teen in creating family tech agreements about healthy device use. Secondly, create device-free spaces and times in your house (eating, sleeping, and playing, schoolwork).
Remind your children that what goes online stays online (messages, photos, and videos).
5. Be a Relevant Parent
Spend time with your child or teen online and explore websites, social media, games, and apps together. Make it a point to talk to your teen on how to report inappropriate content. Common Sense Media has great advice for apps, games and entertainment for different ages.
6. How to Manage anger
We love our children and teenagers, but the stresses of COVID-19, money and lockdown can make us angry. Here is how we can maintain control and manage our anger so we do not hurt others. Brain science shows if you control your anger or do something positive you increase your child’s brain development.
Identify your Triggers
Usually, the same things usually make us get stressed and angry every time.
Be honest with yourself and ask what makes you angry? When does it happen? How do you normally react? When you can answer this, you can prevent it from starting.
Perhaps you get angry when you are tired, so try and get some sleep or rest. If it’s hunger, try to be sure you can eat. If it’s feeling alone, ask someone for support.
As we celebrate the global day of parents, let us remember that our children will have memories from this time. Let us help them to learn how to thrive through difficult and uncertain times. Tough times do not last, but tough people do.
Read Also: How to Monitor your Child’s Screen Time