HOW IS ISOLATION AFFECTING OUR TODDLERS, KINDERGARTNERS AND PRESCHOOLERS?
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Everyone across the world is living their own strange reality these days, but parents of under 7’s are perhaps going through their most puzzling and challenging parenting phase yet as they try to shield their children from the grim realities. While kids these days are more aware of the impact of climate change, can navigate a Zoom class easily, and put together a complicated puzzle faster than our generation could, they are still emotionally fragile and understanding the changes to routines, fun activities and socializing during this pandemic are challenging. Every parent has their own unique coping mechanism, so here are just a few ideas to help:
1) Tell them Age-Appropriate Truths: Being honest with your children is important, but keep it age appropriate. You will need to explain the changes to everyday routines that the pandemic has had. By now, they are probably on auto-pilot as far as scrubbing their hands, slapping on masks, keeping a good space from others, but how do you tell kids that school as they know it may not happen in the same way it used to. Or birthdays? Or playtime in the park? I try and stick to weekly silver linings... Let's do a video chat with your friend John and then we can make milkshakes. Keeping certain daily routines will help and adding in weekly routines like scooter time outdoors every afternoon will give them something to look forward to.
2) Revel in Nature: Make sure that you show your kids videos of how nature and animals are rebooting themselves. Kids are already little eco warriors so this is the ideal time to emphasize this. Dolphins and flamingos are returning to Mumbai’s water ways, peacocks are roaming freely again, and the snow capped Himalayas are now visible to most people. Butterflies are coming out in their droves, as well as birds. Try to spot the unusual birds around and make a list where they can draw the birds they have spotted.
3) Family First: This has been one of the best times for families to enjoy time together. Being able to work from home has it’s obvious challenges, but one of the great plus’s is being able to spend more time with your kids. When last could you sit and do a puzzle with your children, or read a book from cover to cover with them? Perhaps cooking with them has become a regular habit. For sure we have all been playing a lot more board games. Take your time and enjoy these new found activities.
4) Recycling: Cleaning out the children’s toybox is a must while you have the time. Make a box of donation toys and let the kids help to make decisions which toys to donate to children who would appreciate them. The same goes for their closets, get rid of those clothes that someone else could enjoy. Pull out those lego sets and rebuild them. If you have paints that are almost done, perhaps you can add water and reuse them for watercolor painting.
5) Touchy Huggy Time: Now that we don’t have the morning rush to get to school and work, take advantage of a slower start to your days. Preparing pancakes together and letting the kids help with preparation and setting and unsetting the table can be a fun ritual in the mornings. Make sure that you regularly have time to hug and cuddle during your day with your kids. Let them play with the dog or help bath and brush the dogs. Make time to have virtual calls with grandparents and friends, with virtual hugs and kisses.
Remember that children, no matter if they are toddlers, preschoolers or kindergartners, are very resilient and will continue to learn and thrive throughout times of change as long as you keep some laughter, joy and routine to their days.
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