The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is impacting the lives of all families around the world. There are so many activities that have stopped. Learning and work are being asked to take place from home, while advice to maintain a safe physical distance from others continues. This situation is not easy for anyone, especially parents. In collaboration with the Parenting for Lifelong Health initiative, UNICEF has put together some practical tips to help parents and caregivers deal with these times.
Quality time with each child
Can’t work? School closed? Worried about finances? In the current situation, it is natural to feel restless or depressed. On the other hand, closing schools is an opportunity to get closer to our children. You can do this by creating special activities with each child. This free and fun way makes children feel loved, safe, and know that they are important.
Set a schedule for activities with each child
Set the duration of the activity—20 minutes or longer, it’s up to you. Do it at the same time every day so there is something to look forward to.
Ask the child to choose the type of activity
Asking children to choose means building their confidence. If your child chooses an activity to do in crowded places, this is an opportunity for us to discuss with him the current situation.
Maintaining a good mood is not easy when you have to deal with children with various kinds of behavior. Often times, parents end up rebuking, “Enough, stop!” In fact, we know that children will be more obedient if given positive commands and praise if he succeeds in doing something.
Focus on the behavior we want
Use positive sentences when asking your child to do something. Example: “Keep your clothes, please” instead of “Don’t make a mess!”
The tone of voice is important
Yelling at a child will only add to the feeling of stress and anger, both for the parents and for the children themselves. Try to get your child’s attention by calling their name and speaking in a calm voice.
Praise your child for good behavior
Praise children, including teens, if they display good behavior. The child may not show he is happy, but next time he will repeat the good behavior. Praise also shows that we care about and care about their behavior.
Are our requests realistic for children to carry out? Young children usually find it difficult to stay calm at home all day long. However, they can be quiet for 15 minutes while the parents take the call.
Help the teenager stay close to his friends
Teenagers have a greater need to communicate with friends. Help children stay connected through social media and other means without breaking the safe distance. Parents can come too!
Make a schedule
COVID-19 has brought work, home and school routines to a halt. This is a difficult situation for children, both young and old, and adults. To overcome this, create a new routine.
Routines are flexible, yet consistent
– Create a schedule for parent and child. List times for purposeful activities and leisure activities. Schedules help children feel more secure and calm.
– Children can help plan schedules—like class schedules. If involved, the child is more likely to follow the schedule well.
– Enter your daily exercise schedule. Exercise helps relieve stress and channel children’s energy.
Teach children about safe distance and how to maintain it
Take the child out of the house—if it’s still allowed
– Create a letter or picture for others to see. Stick it on a window or wall so you can see it!
– Reassure the child; tell them what to do to keep them safe.
– Listen to their advice and take it seriously
Overcoming bad behavior
All children have misbehaved. This is normal when children are tired, hungry, afraid, or are learning to be independent. After all, they are bored because they have to be in the house all the time.
– Address bad behavior immediately and turn the child’s attention to good behavior.
– Stop before it starts! Once your child starts to get agitated, distract him by offering him an interesting or fun activity, such as taking them for a walk around the house.
Teach children consequences
Consequences help each child to take responsibility for his actions. Consequences also instill discipline. This is more effective than hitting or yelling.
- Ask children to choose to follow parental directions before giving consequences.
- Try to stay calm when giving consequences
- Make sure you are also consistent in applying the consequences. Consequences must be realistic.
- Seizing a teen’s cell phone for a week is much more difficult than keeping it on for an hour.
- After the consequences are over, give the child a chance to do good, and praise them.
- Quality time, praising your child, and a consistent routine can all help with bad behavior.
Also give children and youth simple, responsible tasks. Make sure they can do the job. Don’t forget to compliment them when you’re done!
Keep calm and manage stress
These are the times when stress is easy to strike. Take care of ourselves so we can take care of our children.
You’re not alone
There are millions of other people with the same fear. Find someone you can talk to. Listen to them too. Avoid social media that can create panic.
Take a rest
We all need rest. While the children are sleeping, do activities that we enjoy or that make us calm. Make a list of healthy activities that YOU enjoy. You deserve to be entertained too!
Be open and listen to the children. Children seek parents and caregivers for support and reassurance. Listen to their stories. Accept their feelings and give them comfort.
Be willing to discuss. The children must have heard the news. Protect children not by refusing to explain or covering up the situation, but by being honest and open. Adjust delivery to the child’s level of understanding. You know best.
Be open, listen child
Start by getting your child to talk about this topic. Ask some questions asking them to explain the situation from their point of view to find out their level of knowledge. Drawing, reading stories, and other activities can help open a conversation.
Allow children to speak freely
Most importantly, don’t take them for granted or avoid their anxieties. Make sure you acknowledge their feelings and reassure them that it’s natural to be afraid about these things.
Answer every question honestly. Consider the child’s age and how well they can understand information. Use age-appropriate language, pay attention to their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety.
The child may feel scared or confused. Give them a chance to share their feelings. Reassure children that we are there for them.
You can help your children deal with stress by creating a conducive environment for them to play and relax, if possible. Maintain regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before bed.