Adapting the new normal is hard, especially so for our little ones. For most of us, figuring out the right answers to their burning questions can be overwhelming.
If you thought getting used to navigating your newfound remote life is hard for you, think about how much more jarring this process is for your little ones! From the initial excitement of the prospect of not going to school, to the panicked realisation that this isn’t a drill, the rollercoaster of emotions your child is going through can be immensely stressful.
Knowing the answers to the hundreds of questions that often times come in bursts throughout the day is half the battle. Being able to tactfully communicate your answers to quell their anxiety, make them feel supported and give them clarity on the current situation? That’s a skill yet to be mastered by many of us.
To help parents out on this endeavour, we have narrowed down 3 questions our children tend to ask us these days and how to communicate the answers effectively.
- When can I go back to school?
Now here’s a question you would have never thought your little one would ask. It usually comes after the excitement of staying home everyday has died down and the seriousness of the unprecedented circumstances sets in. For children, school represents a daily routine and removing that routine, coupled with the absence of social interactions with their friends and teachers can be rather confusing and may even induce anxiety.
For starters, keep abreast of updates from your child’s school on the status of the open dates and let your child know that you are on top of this. Beyond that, ensure that you communicate to your child why exactly he is not able to attend school right now. This means having a conversation about the pandemic with your child. While this presents a good opportunity to educate your child about the current situation, this is also where it can get tricky.
Before having this conversation, it is necessary for you to sieve the credible information about the pandemic from the fake news that is constantly being circulated. When you do choose to talk about it with your child, it is important that you remain calm, so as to not unnecessarily pass on any fears or anxieties.
For younger children, stick to the positives and make them feel supported by letting them know that the current circumstances are not permanent. Explain that school will commence once the situation has been solved, but that can only happen if everyone does their part by staying home and staying safe.
2. Why can’t I meet my friends?
Staying cooped up at home all day with only their parents and (if they are lucky) a family pet for company can be downright depressing for most children. After several days of not seeing their friends, they might start to get upset about the situation and raise this question.
As with the previous question, communicating the whats and whys of the pandemic in a positive and encouraging way is key.
Beyond that, stress the importance how, by following national health and safety guidelines, they are ensuring that the road to eradicating the pandemic remains smooth and easy. This is a good opportunity for you to help them understand that their actions hold weight and form a big part of the nation-wide plans to flatten the curve.
You can also schedule virtual play dates on Zoom or Skype for your child and his friends! But do remember to limit your child’s screen exposure in these instances.
3. I’m so bored. Now what do I do?
Often times, the mad scramble to fulfil your professional obligations all while addressing your child’s boredom may force you to wing it on the daily. You may find it rather challenging to create a structure for your child’s routine as you do not seem to have the time, much less the energy to formulate a quality timetable for your child. As such, you may turn to mobile devices for their wealth of entertaining and educational resources as a quick fix to occupy your child’s time.
However, as children start spending more time on devices to quell their boredom, they may be susceptible to the adverse health effects of too much screen time.
These include, digital eye strain, musculoskeletal problems like neck, shoulder and hand pain, and short-sightedness. So, what do you say to your bored child who is hunched over his mobile phone for hours on end?
The answer: It is not so much a verbal one. Rather, it requires a little creativity and simple planning on your part.
Start by making a list of the tasks and activities you do daily that you can involve your child in. For instance, you can work together with them to complete your domestic duties; make them your tiny sous-chefs as you cook for the day, do a little spring cleaning or even have them join you on a parent-child workout or yoga session!
Engaging in such activities together each day not only makes for beautiful bonding sessions, it can keep your little one occupied for hours. Having the extra help around the house and a permanent work-out buddy doesn’t hurt either!
When you do allow them some time on their devices (including during their Home-Based-Learning sessions), ensure that they practice healthy device habits to protect their still-developing eyes.
Put yourself in your little one’s shoes
Before you throw your hands up in defeat as your child asks his hundredth question, consider this for a moment: The pandemic’s mental and emotional impact is likely even greater for our little ones than it is for us, simply because they lack the maturity to fully understand the circumstances.
It is our responsibility and priority as parents to address their questions, allay their fears and help them feel safe in these trying times. Granted, adapting to the new normal can be extremely challenging for our little ones, but remember: we hold the power to make their transition easy!