Friday, April 10, 2020

Helping our Children Cope

During this time of COVID-19 with widespread sheltering in place, we are all experiencing a great amount of stress. Uncertainty about when we will return to “normal” routines, fears about loss of income, fears about loss of friends or family to this illness are all in play. So many stressors are pushing on all of us from so many directions. It can be hard to manage our time wisely, especially if we must juggle working online and caring for our children. Here are a few tips that may help you through this time.
  1. Set up a daily routine – it doesn’t matter what – just create a predictable structure for your child. Figure out what works for you. Predictable routines help ease anxiety.
  2. Focus on keeping the household running – cleaning up, picking up, assigning tasks, etc. We are all together in our households and cannot really escape for long. We’ve got to keep our living spaces sane. Enlist your child’s help in as many areas as possible.
  3. Don’t stress academics at this time. Focus on doing the minimum needed to keep their skills fresh. This isn’t the time to introduce a lot of new concepts or put pressure on any new skills. Everyone in the nation is experiencing this together, so you don’t need to worry your child will “fall behind.”  Academics are not what matters most at this moment. Use this time for enrichment activities but only if your child is really enjoying them.
  4. Try not to use electronic media too much. Hands on experiences are the most beneficial activities at this time. Use electronic media wisely and in limited amounts each day. The growing child’s brain needs all the neural connections that are formed from actual real world hands-on experiences.
  5. Get exercise daily. If it is safe to go for a neighborhood walk, then take a daily family walk. Have exercise time at home, too with dancing, obstacle courses, calisthenics like jumping jacks, hopscotch and more.  Be sure to include some calming breathing exercises as well.
  6. Focus on connection and emotional support with your child. Create fun and memorable activities for all of you to do as a family. This is a scary and confusing time for your child, even if they don’t show it! Help your child have virtual “playdates” with other children. You can video conference with others for an hour while children do similar activities in their own homes. Call grandparents and other relatives frequently with your child. Help your child talk about his/her feelings and acknowledge them as valid. Don’t diminish/dismiss your child’s fears. Let them know that you are there for them and willing to help them get through this. 
These are just a few ideas but I hope they help us all find a liveable  and happy medium during this time. 

Marla Nargundkar, AMI
Tree of Life Montessori School of Atlanta