The experiences and memories we have as children impact us and our choices as adults. I would like to share some of the things that we are doing in our household to support our family.
1) Honesty Is The Best Policy (but it needs to be age-appropriate)
I think it’s essential, to be honest with our children and to discuss what is happening in a way that they will understand, but also to give them hope. To allow and teach them to process what is going on around us and how to cope. These kinds of skills are necessary for adulthood, and the training for these skills is now.
2) Recognize That It Is Different
It’s essential for all of us to recognize and accept that things are different right now. Our children are home instead of in school. For many adults, we are home during the day; some of us working remotely while others are not working. Still, other adults are working outside the home, and are in situations in which there may be an increase in the risk of contracting the virus.
3) Establish Routines
It’s essential to have a routine, especially right now. Routine makes children feel safer. Waking up around the same time, having breakfast together, and establishing some kind of schedule for the day can allow children to feel safer and know what to expect. It can also keep everyone on track with what needs to be accomplished.
4) Create a Schedule
Posting a schedule on the wall or refrigerator, where children can see what the day will be like. This can be a good family activity, in which the kids can be involved and contribute. Help your children learn to find balance throughout the day. Use words and pictures so that kids of all ages and abilities can read and understand the schedule. Follow the schedule, but allow for flexibility.
5) Create Balance In Your Daily Life
There are several articles out there that talk about what you should, or should not, be doing while the children are home from school right now. I think about going back to basics. Eat healthily, get outside for fresh air, get some movement in, have some quality family time, and get a good night’s sleep. These kinds of activities will allow your children to better cope with the stress and changes, and they are healthy activities we all need.
6) Reduce Unnecessary Change
Reducing unnecessary change can be beneficial for children, especially ones who have special needs. Many special needs children have a great deal of difficulty with sudden change because they need time to adjust and cope. Change can also create fear because of the unknowns. Following a set routine and schedule can help with this. You can help reduce this by explaining what is changing, with plenty of time before it happens.
7) Establish Boundaries
Continuing to establish healthy boundaries about what can be eaten, and what activities can be done, will also reinforce a feeling of being cared for and feeling safe. Placing limits on things such as video games, although our children may protest, tells them we are attentive and care about them. Many studies show, and many parents attest to the fact that having healthy boundaries with children allows them to grow up happier and healthier, and able to establish proper boundaries as adults.
8) Prioritize What Is Important
Many families are homeschooling or supporting their children as their teachers assign schoolwork. School is important, and so is learning, but your relationship with your child is far more critical. Your child won’t remember most of what they learned in school this week, but they will remember how you, the parent, made them feel. I homeschooled my child all the way through, and what I learned was the relationship we developed far outweighed anything he learned during schooling.
9) Invest In What Is Important
Use this time that you are home with your child to invest in them. Read to them, bake cookies, watch a show together, play a game, talk. This ‘stay at home’ Covid-19 virus issue won’t last forever. The most impactful thing you can do during this time is to spend quality time with your family. If you are gone working, try to carve out some time during the week to spend with your children.
I guess my biggest hope is that the experiences children have today will influence them in positive ways in the future. Having quality time, and being loved by the adults in their lives, is what counts. Understand that ‘this too shall pass,’ and when it does, you may wish you had more time to spend with your kid(s).
I ask myself each day, what can I do today to make my students feel special, to make my students feel loved, and to make them feel cared about. I wonder what kind of memories our kids will have of this time when they are grown.