It has been more than 2 years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic and the stay-at-home order have been a stressful and anxiety-inducing period of time for everyone, especially for parents with small children. Children and parents faced increased stress because they had to stay cooped inside the house. Even so, our children require continuous learning and development. Therefore, we need to find ways to assist our children any way that we can.
Here are some ways that parents can use to support our children through the COVID-19 pandemic.
#1 Practice “Serve and Return” with young children
Harvard researchers coined the term “Serve and Return”. It is a form of interaction for young children. Toddlers and young children reach out for attention through babbling, gesturing, making faces, or repeating recognised phrases. This action shows that children “served” the interaction to us. Hence, it is important to “return” the gesture by giving young children attention. For example, playing with toys, repeating back their words, gesturing back and so on.
The “Serve and Return” interactions can help to maintain responsiveness and improve interactions with us parents. These interactions give children the chance to develop their brains and resilience. It can also alleviate boredom at home and build bonds with children, particularly those that have only started to speak.
#2 Sticking to a routine
We humans are used to having a set everyday routine. It typically comprises going to work, leisure time and taking care of housework. Although we are stuck at home, we all need some form of routine to develop and maintain a healthy habit. It is important to set a routine for: mealtime, brushing teeth, napping, bedtime, playtime and so on.
The same goes for children, especially for schooling-age children who are accustomed to going to school. They had a routine between school and extracurricular activities.
Two years into the pandemic have certainly changed things and how we get through our days. We have seen intermittent reopening of schools, especially in the past year. However, it is still important to plan and stick to a routine for when the school may be closed and having to go back to e-learning.
Create a new routine when this happens, by replicating our children’s old routine. Of course, remember to include study time, breaks, hobbies, exercise and leisure.
#3 Taking a break
It is important for both parents to take a break once in a while to beat the pandemic fatigue. Our children are reliant on us, so by taking regular breaks, we can better respond to our children’s needs. At the same time, we can find ways to alleviate our stress. You can relax your senses by soaking your tired feet with TYT’s Herbal Foot Bath. Enjoy your day relaxing and sip on a warm mug of TYT’s Ginger Tea as well.
Better yet, schedule an outing if the COVID restrictions permits. Go to places like a botanical garden, hiking, arcade and so on. These outings can give our children breath of fresh air from the change in surroundings. This can also be a chance for our children to experience new things. If you plan on going out somewhere, TYT’s MDU Oil is a must have. That’s because our oil contains lemongrass oil that can effectively and naturally repel insects.
#4 Keep in touch
It may be difficult or near impossible to arrange a trip to a friend’s house, or to return back to our hometown to visit our families and relatives, especially if our children are still young and more susceptible to the virus. Although vaccination rates have increased, cases still fluctuate. Physical interaction with friends and family is still not ideal, at least for the time being.
In this case, we can help our children to keep in touch with friends and family by utilising our smartphones. They can communicate through WhatsApp phone calls, video calls and even by sending and receiving photos regularly through chats.
It is important for our children to improve their social interaction, particularly with friends and family. It is essential for their mental growth and well-being, in order to improve their awareness and empathy for others.
#5 Create home activities for our children
Nowadays, the children are stuck at home due to an increasing number of positive cases. Perhaps also due to an extended stay-home order, or even when we are too concerned for their safety. In such cases, we can create stay-home activities to distract and tire children’s hyperactive minds. Some examples come to mind: doing easy science experiments, drawing and colouring, playing board games, stretching exercises, dancing and so on.
These activities can be easily organised through Google searches. We can then purchase the materials or resources required through online shopping platforms.
#6 Regular check-ins with children
The situation with COVID-19 may change drastically from time-to-time. We have seen happen when there is an emergence in new variants or during the emergence of new clusters that exponentially increase the number of new cases every day.
Our children are not completely oblivious to the things that are happening outside. They are also capable of picking up on our stress and anxiety, which may further clue them on the current situation.
We as parents play an important role in being a source of reassurance for our children. Hence, we should keep our children in the loop with the current COVID-19 situation and do regular check-ins with them by asking them their thoughts and feelings. It is also important for us as parents to properly explain to our children about COVID-19 and resolve all their questions because reducing children’s uncertainty may also reduce their stress and anxiety about the current pandemic.
We as parents need to find innovative and creative ways to support our children. However at the same time, we should not neglect their education and growth. The most important part of it all, is to emphasise with them as another human being. We as parents are going through difficult times due to the pandemic. At the same time, our children are also affected, although to a slightly different extent. So, the best way to support our children throughout the pandemic is to keep up an open line of communication and by creating an environment that is conducive for our children to divulge their worries and concerns to us.