5 Ways To Help Your Kids Cope With Staying Home
Kids are amazing. Parents, too. Right now, in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, kids and parents are a team. No matter how much kids know about this virus and the resulting life-saving restrictions they now live under, the whole family is impacted by this experience. By focusing on this opportunity for more time to share, support and work together as a family, you can grow closer and stronger.
1. Make time for play
Play is essential in children’s lives. Play is an important part of each child’s healthy development and acts as a normalizing activity for children and youth of all ages. It is especially helpful for children to play when they are anxious and struggling to cope during stressful times. Explore all toys old and new, and consider the joy of creating forts using blankets and pillows. Kids often need play to “work out” and cope with what is happening in their lives, so it is normal to see and hear kids referring to “isolation” and “sickness” during a time like this. Parents don’t need to intervene when these topics come up but can help clarify any misinformation kids may have about COVID-19 and the social restrictions in many communities around the world. Here’s a great activity for building family connection.
2. Get creative
Art comes in many forms and can offer children (and adults) an opportunity to express feelings and fears in many different ways. On busy days, offer colouring sheets and blank paper to colour, draw, cut and glue. On less busy days, tackle a group art project like making a family board game together, or making chalk designs, decorations and drawings on your front walkway, patio or balcony. Food boxes and plastic bottles are fun supplies to use for construction and creation activities. Consider making your neighbourhood out of boxes and recycled materials. Make family crests or shields to represent each family member.
3. Create a daily routine
Figure out a routine that will provide some structure and familiarity during this “new normal”. Nothing too rigid, so flexibility is key in case the kids get up early or late. If you know you need to complete some work tasks or calls first thing each morning, plan to allow some special TV shows, games or movies the kids can enjoy on their own. Ensure the routine is filled with a variety of different activities that include both independent activities that kids can do on their own and family activities you can do together.
4. Set realistic expectations
In the midst of this pandemic, it can be hard to get things done and give attention to everything you want to do, since we are living through so much. Try setting realistic goals for yourself and the kids. Focusing on one task at a time can make a big difference in reducing overall stress. Play with the kids, and give them your full, undivided attention (put the phone down), so you can really enjoy the LEGO adventure, craft or game chosen. If you need designated “work time”, trade-off supervising the kids with your co-parent (if possible), or offer motivating activities kids really like to do on their own. That might include a video game or screen, and that’s ok.
5. Discover simple pleasures
Although this is a stressful and scary time for all, many kids are sharing how much they like this extra time at home with family. Try to take opportunities to really BE together. Make and enjoy food together, host “family movie nights” with popcorn, and consider learning how to play Minecraft or the latest game on the Nintendo switch if that is available to you.
Looking for more resources for children? Click here.
Morgan Livingstone MA CCLS CIIT is a Certified Child Life Specialist and Certified International Infant Massage Trainer, whose work is focused on helping children and families cope with illness, trauma, loss and difficult life experiences. Morgan is especially passionate about helping kids cope when mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. She has written handbooks for parents about talking to kids about breast cancer and provided child life support sessions in family homes and support groups for kids whose mother has cancer.
During COVID-19 isolation, Morgan has been working with children and families via video meetings and managing to educate, entertain and feed her own two kids, dog and busy working husband while remaining in her small two-story, two-bedroom condo in downtown Toronto. “We keep busy with crafts and lots of cooking, baking and exercise, and are loving our family movie nights where we have been watching ALL the Marvel movies in chronological order!”