Have Plenty of Interesting Things to Do At Home
When children are busy, they are less likely to be bored, anxious formula for gassy baby, and sad or get into trouble. Work with your children to come up with a list of 20 or more activities that they can do if they find themselves bored and not sure what to do. Make sure that you include physical activities to keep children active there are many that can be done either inside or outside.
For younger children, activities might include drawing, painting, building an obstacle course, playing with blocks and play dough; and playing hide-and-seek. For older children and adolescents, activities might include cooking, completing an online exercise program, and drawing, playing catch or handball, and listening to music or a podcast. Board games and puzzles are great for children of all ages. Put a copy of the list somewhere in the house where your children can easily see it (e.g. on the fridge). This may be a good time for you and your child to take on a new project together (e.g. learning a new language or making an online photo book).
Make sure the activities are not just variations on screen time. However, at times like these, it’s OK to loosen up on your usual screen time rules and allow more than usual. Some screen time could include other family members or friends (e.g. having a family movie night; playing online games with friends; talking to family or friends online).
Take Notice of Behavior You Like
During this difficult time, think about the values, skills and behaviors you wish to encourage in your children. There are many opportunities to teach your children important life skills (e.g. being caring, helpful, and cooperative; getting on well with siblings; taking turns). Pay careful attention to your children’s behavior during this time. Whenever they do something you like and want to encourage, specifically name the behavior and then use plenty of praise and positive attention to encourage it in the future you will find this is a very powerful thing to do. For example: That was lovely that you suggested we phone your grandmother. That’s so kind that you thought to do that. She really appreciated it or Thank you for reading quietly and waiting until I was off my work call to ask me your question.
Help Children Learn To Tolerate More Uncertainty
The COVID-19 crisis is creating uncertainty for everyone. As parents, we need to find a way to accept this uncertainty ourselves. Then, through our actions and words, we need to demonstrate this acceptance to our children (e.g. we don’t know when this is going to be over. I know it’s hard to not know. We just have to remind ourselves that we are doing our best to stay well and safe and that the whole world is working together on this problem). Big changes to children’s lives can be hard and often scary, but they can also create opportunities for learning new skills (e.g. different ways of communicating with friends and loved ones). If you have serious concerns about your child’s emotional health, seek professional support.