BE A ROLE MODEL
Children will look to you and follow your reactions. In a time of a crisis, how you handle the situation becomes the foundation for how your children perceive this time. Are they going to remember this as the time they felt stressed out, scared, and anxious? Or are they going to remember this as the time where they had fun playing board games as a family and learned how to cook?
Although easier said than done, try to be actively aware of your body language and how your children are perceiving your behavior. Children are looking to you, the ones they trust the most, to guide them in this unknown time. By remaining calm and making the best out of the situation, children will learn to adjust to this new normal in a positive way.
While it is important to prevent your children from feeling unnecessary stress, it is also important for you to be honest with them about what is happening. They may be confused as to why they can’t go outside or visit a friend, or why they suddenly couldn’t go to school. Many children also probably feel upset or frustrated that they are no longer able to experience events they were looking forward to, like prom or graduation. Take this time to understand their frustration. Sit with them and listen to their concerns.
How you discuss COVID-19 with your child will dictate how anxious or fearful they will feel. Remind them that your family is healthy and reassure them that everyone is working hard to get through this together. Encourage them to practice proper hygiene and social distancing. Being honest with them about the situation will help them understand why the events they were looking forward to are canceled, and hopefully will lead them to accept that it was for the best. Most importantly, practice what you preach. Be the role model that not only demonstrates social distancing and positivity but also problem-solving and compassion.
MAINTAIN A DAILY ROUTINE
It is easy for days to blend into one another when the routine of getting up to go to school or work every day is gone. It is also easy to get lost in technology if there’s no reason to keep track of time or schedules. For children, however, this can hinder their growth and development.
Maintaining a stable, yet flexible, routine is key to providing your children with a sense of control and well-being. Make sure they wake up within a certain hour each weekday. Start your morning by announcing what day it is and your plans for the day. While it sounds silly, it gives a sense of direction and ensures productivity during a time when it would be easier to do nothing.
Maintaining a schedule gives your children responsibility and structure. If they are old enough, working with your child to come up with a daily schedule will also teach them time management and the importance of prioritizing tasks. It will also help them practice discipline and help you by giving you time to focus on work. This is another good way to limit the amount of time they spend on social media or technology.
Reward your children for following their schedules and let them know that you appreciate them working with you as a team to get through each day. If your children are not yet old enough to follow their own schedule, make a schedule for them on your own and follow that schedule. This will help them find consistency and structure in their day-to-day.