It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many and disrupted our daily lives in more ways than one. For adults, the core issue truly revolves around employment and the ailing economy. However, it may be a different case for children. Children are unlikely to be as emotionally and mentally developed to fully comprehend all the unsettling changes that seemingly occurred within days. Schools were forced to close and children were mostly left to their own devices to entertain themselves at home during the quarantine, which may lead to a sense of disconnection from reality.
Thankfully for most of us, the lockdown is gradually lifting and schools are reopening. However, the threat of COVID-19 still remains real and close to home. As children return to school, it is not to say that things have returned back to normal. In fact, the current situation is vastly different in the face of the pandemic and parents should pay extra attention to their children. Besides that, it is time for parents to prepare some back to school essentials, like stylish school backpacks that kids love to get your kids ready for classes.
The main difference is how school is going to seem for your children. Gone are the crowded hallways of classrooms and the noisy lunch breaks. Classes are likely to be drastically reduced in human numbers and frequency. Play areas will be cordoned off, physical education classes likely to be canceled. All of this means that human interactions will be reduced and discouraged. Some of your children might not understand the rationale behind all these drastic changes, and it is your job as a guardian to ease them into these changes.
Talk to your children
Sit your children down and spend some time to explain to them the reasons for the change. Children may not grasp the severity of the issue but giving them context allows them to be more empathetic and cooperative. This is also a good time to foster open communication with your children so that they do not internalize all the negativity going about.
Share with them the potential changes that may occur and prepare them for what is to come so that they would not be caught off guard by changes. It is advisable to check for any resources from your child’s school or local authorities regarding changes in the school curriculum.
Stick to a routine
With telecommuting becoming the main way of communication for work instead of turning up physically at work, most of us can get an additional hour of shut-eye. COVID-19 also means no needless grocery trips and window shopping at the mall, no gymming, or physical yoga sessions; which really frees up our once busy daily schedules. It is no wonder that most of us can take a more laid back approach towards our daily lives—sleeping at later hours, getting up later, and even eating at odd hours.
Well, all these are fine. There is no need to beat yourself or your family members up over that. However, when it comes to the education of your children, certain boundaries need to be made clear so that your children can head to school in their best conditions. These include the bedtimes of your children and preparing for school.
It is important to readjust and adopt a schedule to make sure that the bare minimum is met. For parents, also consider the adjustments that you need to make to send and fetch your kids from school, as well as meal preparations.
On days off for the kids, it is also good to encourage them to pick up a productive hobby such as drawing or learning a new instrument. While there is no need to be overly strict with your kids, it will serve them well to push them to put the extra time to good use instead of idling away.
Listen to your kids
As mentioned earlier, it is recommended to have open communication with your children. This means actively looking out for your kids whenever they are troubled and listening to what they may have to say regarding all these changes.
Children have emotional needs to be met as well, and there will be times when you will need to allay their worries and fears, or simply be a listening ear for them. Parents of multiple kids may want to have a private session with each of their kids to encourage them to share truthfully without being influenced by the presence of their other sibling(s). This will allow you, as parents, to better understand what they may be experiencing individually.
Get your kids to share
For those with kids with an introverted nature, they may be resistant to talk about feelings and emotions. Parents may have to prompt them occasionally so they will get in the habit of sharing about their day.
Instead of forcing them to speak about their emotions from the get-go, it is recommended to lead in with a simple question on what they are interested in school and their friends. Ask questions that require them to elaborate in detail. Once they seem comfortable with answering such questions, you may be able to probe them on more delicate issues. In fact, some of them may approach you themselves when they have problems. Keep in mind that you should keep at this for a while and continuously stay updated with the happenings of your child’s experiences at school.
Reward your kids with their favorite snack or allow them to have some leisure time to do what they want to keep them motivated. Change can be scary for some but you can try to suppress the unfounded negative feelings and fears by keeping them focused on the fun and controllable aspects of their daily lives.
Remember to have some much-needed family time as well with movies on Netflix or board games—whatever brings your family together. The lockdown may also prove to be a valuable time to bring your family closer together if parents play their cards right by engaging in common activities together and providing timely emotional support for the children.
Going back to school can be unexpected stress for the parents and your children. Although there are many things we cannot control in life, our attitudes and outlook regarding life are ours to manage. Always keep the faith that things will get better and focus on what you can do for your children to ease into this current new normal.