Family / coronavirus

Tips to support children through the the pandemic

By maria newman, Tuesday May 5, 2020

How are your children doing? Are they enjoying not going to school? Are they loving spending more time with you?

Or are they bored already? Are they wishing that things were back to normal? Are they missing their friends?

Obviously, we are all getting used to a new norm, even if it’s temporary. And we’re all trying to cope with it in our own way. My coping mechanism is to retain a sense of control and so we have a routine.

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It’s the only way to ensure that both me and my husband can work as well as being able to look after our kids. Plus, it makes it easier to make the weekdays feel different from the weekends.

Some tips to help children through the pandemic. Photo: Maria Newman

But our kids also need to find their way of dealing with this new way of life. They’re going to go through many different emotions until they’ve got it straight in their minds exactly what is going on.

For me, I think there needs to be a balance between routine and “riding the wave”.

Here are my tips for supporting your children through these times.

1. Have a routine
In these unusual times, a routine can give our children what they need: A sense of stability and comfort. It’s like a comfort blanket; they know exactly what is happening during these uncertain times.

My daughter is definitely getting used to our new routine; the other day she actually made up her own routine, which was really impressive.

2. Talking
Our children will have a lot of questions, some of which we will be able to answer and some of which we will not. The question my two usually ask is, “when will we be able to see our friends again?’, which then leads to further questioning.

I know how much information my kids can take in and how honest I can be with them. Yes, I do withhold some things as I don’t want to unnecessarily upset them, but I also tell them when I don’t know.

It’s important to talk to children about the situation.Photo: Tara Miran

Another good tip is to ask them what they think instead of trying to give an answer. If you let them talk, you might get a better insight into what their actual concern is. Plus, they may be able to figure it out for themselves – which means they may accept the answer more easily.

3. Be their parent
I’ve seen lots of very supportive messages on Facebook from teachers emphasising that as parents we are not expected to be our children’s “teacher”. I’m the pseudo-teacher at the moment, not my husband. Yes, we have home learning to do, but there isn’t the expectation that we will deliver our children back into education knowing everything.

I know that I’m inclined to encourage my children to complete as much of the work as possible, but this is putting more pressure on them and me. So, I’m taking the pressure off.

In a classroom the ratio is 30 to one, unlike at home where, for us, it is two to one. This is more attention than they’d get in their day and so it can be stressful.

Being creative with home learning. Photo: Maria Newman

4. Be still
Self-care time. Just as I preach about mums taking the time to practice self-care, the same applies to children. Do things that allow them to fill their cup.

Try some meditation. Try some mindfulness. Lie down outside and watch the clouds pass by. Or, if you’re confined to the house, stare at the ceiling and count the cobwebs or cracks!

5. Get bored
It’s far too easy to try hard. To make sure that the kids are fully occupied all the time. To stop them from saying “I’m bored”. But the thing is, if we’re always there to save them from boredom then they’ll lose the ability to be creative and occupy themselves.

Children are naturally creative. As an example, my kids love a cardboard box. It provides endless hours of fun. It can be a house, a car and even a spaceship.

Little quiet time creating

Encourage children to create. Photo: Maria Newman

They also love to roleplay. My daughter is currently into the Worst Witch, so, as far as she’s concerned, both she and my son are training to be witches.

The world is a very different place at the moment and if we stop to think about it for a long time it can be frightening. Instead, I choose to look at the positives and the opportunities that this time has given me.

The fact that I get to spend quality time with my family. That we get to eat all together and have proper conversations. That we are taking time to stay in touch with family and friends more regularly. The sense of community spirit is truly inspiring. The way everyone is pulling together to support each other.

How are you supporting your kids?

Maria Newman is a writer for Bristol24/7 and runs her own blog, Mummy On A Break.

Main photo: Maria Newman

Read more: Surviving at home with the kids

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