As much as you love your children, you may already be feeling the challenge of social distancing, a.k.a. LOTS of together time. Whether you are used to being at work or out-and-about, this shift to being home bound is a challenge. Here are some ideas from The Parenting Center that may help:
A little structure is good for everyone
Your old routine has been interrupted but you can keep rituals and transitions in place. Even having everyone get dressed and brush their teeth in the morning is a good start. This is especially true for younger children and those who do best with structure and predictability. For school age children, create a new daily schedule together. Be sure to balance structured and open-ended activities and include motivation for the more unpopular tasks. Include regular times for schoolwork, organized activities like games and art, physical activity, and whatever your child wants to add. The internet is full of activity ideas right now! Help your child pick something – and look for something you might enjoy, too. Note that the more you structure and limit screen time the more helpful it will be. Have your child add it to the latter part of the day and plan how they will use it – watch a show, play a game, etc.
A word about schoolwork
Schools and teachers are figuring this out as they go, too. Try to stay aware of their expectations and balance them with what is realistic for your family. Be sure to designate time every day for keeping up with assignments and model respect for the importance of staying on track.
In this time of heightened stress, our fuses are all a bit shorter. Remember to manage challenging behaviors with a balance of love and limits. Provide plenty of empathy and avoid going heavy on consequences. An increase in tension is not going to serve you well right now. But keep family expectations and rules clear so everyone knows where they stand. Remember that prevention is your best tool; plan ahead for your days, avoid letting everyone get too bored, communicate so everyone feels heard.
Talking to kids about COVID-19 and social distancing
If you think this is confusing for adults, imagine this from your child’s point of view. Mixed messages, lots of change, and lots of NO’s adds discomfort and stress. Mr. Rogers said, “What’s mentionable is manageable.” Ask your child what they know about the virus and the response. Invite them to talk about what may be scary or concerning.
When it’s your turn to talk, your message should be honest, factual, and age appropriate. Less is more – and keep asking if they have questions.
When children know the problem, they want to know the PLAN; you don’t have to have a solution but let your child know how you are planning to stay safe and informed. Will there be enough food? Do you have the supplies you need?
Let your child know that it’s okay to be worried. But assure them that this is temporary and that they can ask questions at any time. We’re all in this together and we’re all learning a lot.
The Parenting Center staff includes social workers, education, and development professionals. Give us a call if you have questions about these suggestions or other parenting issues. We are monitoring our phone and email throughout the day. Reach us at 504.896.9591 and email@example.com.