By Katherine Marfal Teves

The joy of going to school and playing with their classmates, the excitement of visiting grannies, cousins, and relatives every weekend, or whenever the schedule permits, the adrenaline rush of an out-of-town trip with the whole family—all of these have been temporarily snatched from our children, because of the pandemic that’s hovering the world now. Saying it’s a tough one is an understatement, but as parents, we need to help them adapt to a world changing dramatically right before their eyes.

children in the window

1. Explain to them what is happening. 

The way we tell them what this pandemic is all about varies according to many factors, including the child’s age, level of understanding, and the child’s personality. If you have a toddler, you can explain the pandemic using simplified visuals, with simplified words. For older children, you can already explain to them the pandemic, in relation to its effects on the society. Be cautious in using terms that might connote pessimism.

You know your child more than anyone else. If you believe that he/she needs a more detailed or simplified explanation, don’t hesitate to do so. Repeating or redoing the explanation can help.

2. Ask how they feel. 

With all the changes in their daily routine, it’s inevitable that they would feel overwhelmed. Are they afraid, sad, or tired of being at home all the time? Tell them that it’s okay to feel this way and that all these things would just be temporary. Elaborate the good reasons behind staying at home, and not being with their classmates and other family members for now. Asking how they feel regularly will give you an idea how to help your child cope with all the drastic changes.

Cabin fever, or the condition in which one feels sick and tired of one’s confinement at home for a long period of time, may also be felt by our children. For families with a garage or a backyard, you can maximize your facilities to ensure that your children don’t get confined in one area. For some families who have limited space at home, looking outside the window can often help.

You can also be more creative by letting your children draw and paint the places that they want to go to when the pandemic ends. Post these artworks in your children’s room, or wherever it may be visible, to bring color and variety to their surroundings. Families can also take this opportunity to paint their walls, or add some interesting wallpapers to make your small space look bigger and new to the eyes of your children.

Anxiety attacks do not exempt our children. They may ask you what is in store for all of you in the future, and what can possibly happen, given the present situation. When this happens, do your best to explain in a positive light.

Tell them that there’s hope in this difficult time and assure them of your love and support.

Playing at home

3. Make “staying at home” fun and productive. 

So how should we do this? You can create a daily routine for your children. You can post it so you won’t forget it. Tell your children that the routine would be strictly followed. It can include a mix of lessons, arts and crafts, household chores, physical activities, and bonding time with family. It can also be a good time to discover the other interests of your child.

Enrolling them in online classes will also be helpful in their adjustment. The Department of Education has just announced that online learning will be the “new normal” for most students. While classes have not yet started, it’s your chance to familiarize your children on how online learning works.

4. Communicate with other family members and friends. 

Technology makes us closer to our loved ones. With video calls, your child can see their grandparents, classmates, and other family members virtually. This will somehow ease their longing for the people they are definitely missing now.

child with a bible

5. Teach them to pray. 

Allot prayer time with all family members. Explain to your children the importance of prayer during this difficult time. You can let them write their prayer intentions and read them aloud.

Parents play a significant role in ensuring that their children cope with and survive the perils of this pandemic. Aside from physical health, we must make sure that our children’s mental and emotional wellbeing is also intact. And the only way we can do that is to be strong, creative, and optimistic, despite all the unwanted changes in our world.

Katherine Marfal Teves is a freelance writer, aspiring children’s storybook writer, and a fulltime homemaker. 


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/22/five-ways-to-help-children-adapt-to-a-changing-world/)