The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it and everyone is doing their best to adapt to the “new normal.” Children, in particular, are one of the most at risk during a pandemic due to their underdeveloped immune systems and young minds. As a parent, it is your duty to properly educate your child on what is happening and what is their role during these critical and unprecedented times.
Communicate openly with your child
Children are still quite dependent on adults for any kind of information that they want to know. Although discussing a pandemic is a far cry from answering day-to-day questions, you will always be their best and most trusted source. Ask your child how much he/she knows about what’s going on now and start from there. Your child will most likely state something that they saw on the internet or share something that they overheard from an adult conversation.
Take note of these simple steps on how to speak to your child about the coronavirus:
- Use simple words that they can easily understand. Remain calm while talking to your child, avoid inciting any form of fear and do not blame the situation on others. Please remember that children will respond to what you say and how you say it.
- Ask them about how they feel about the pandemic, the quarantine and the “new normal”. Recognize that their feelings are valid and reassure them.
- Include them in simple discussions about the pandemic.
- Practice what you preach—children can easily mimic what they see from adults so it is important that you embody the kind of behavior that you want to see in them.
Plan a routine together
Anxiety can take on many forms in both adults and children. Interrupted and broken routines and new practices during a crisis may cause feelings of anxiousness and restlessness within your home. First, try to get in touch with your own reality and emotions so you are assured that you are in the right mindset and emotional state before talking to your child.
When you are ready to have that discussion, involve your child or children in creating a new routine for your family. Ask them more about what he/she may want to do differently or what he/she feels that can possibly make the situation a bit more productive for them. Lastly, create a routine that would encourage spending more time on doing activities together like baking, doing chores, and playing games. There are plenty of activities you can do together, your family just needs to figure out what will work for you. Once you have pinned down the routine, make sure to stick to a schedule. This can help create a sense of normalcy and will give family members something to look forward to.
Continue learning activities at home
Since children are just at home with nothing much to do, they may feel bored and resort to increased usage of gadgets and other entertainment devices. Make sure that you find opportunities for your child at home so they stay on track with their learning and development.
Remember that the situation can get overwhelming for everyone, so it’s also important that you practice extra patience in teaching and learning with your child. UNICEF recommends that you start with shorter learning sessions and gradually increase time spent over a certain amount of time. Balance a mix of offline and online learning opportunities to stimulate your child’s brain even if you are learning within the four walls of your house.
The general population, including children, also serve essential roles in eradicating this pandemic. Keep in mind that you play an essential role in keeping your child healthy, so it’s important to also keep your mind and body in tiptop shape as well, even when there is no virus. As scientists and medical frontliners are hard at work to cure the sick and to find a vaccine, it is your job to keep yourself and the members of your household fit and healthy. These may be achieved by:
- Eating a well-balanced diet; ensure that your child is getting enough vitamins and minerals daily
- Helping your child stay physically active
- Keeping you and your child socially connected to other famly members and friends
- Keeping your vaccinations updated
Your doctor will always be in the best position to give the appropriate medical advice for your child’s condition. For suspected undesirable drug reaction, seek medical attention immediately and report to the FDA at www.fda.gov.ph and UNILAB, Inc. at 8-UNILAB-1 or email@example.com. Always buy your medicine from your trusted drugstores and retailers.
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5 ways to help keep children learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unicef.org. (2020). Retrieved 10 June 2020, from https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/5-tips-help-keep-children-learning-during-covid-19-pandemic.
Beresin, G. (2020). 7 Ways to Support Kids and Teens Through the Coronavirus Pandemic | MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. Retrieved 10 June 2020, from https://www.mghclaycenter.org/hot-topics/7-ways-to-support-kids-and-teens-through-the-coronavirus-pandemic/.
Parenting in a Pandemic: Tips to Keep the Calm at Home. HealthyChildren.org. (2020). Retrieved 10 June 2020, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/communication-discipline/Pages/Positive-Parenting-and-COVID-19_10-Tips.aspx.