Posted on November 01 2021
Help your child find joy, even in uncertainty, with the following tips, including safely getting some fresh air - preferably with a mask on.
Having limited social gatherings, restricted movement, and closed preschools or infant care due to COVID cases does significantly impact our little ones. For example, a study on infants indicated that those born in the COVID-19 era may have lower cognitive scores compared to those born before the pandemic. Test scores fell 22 per cent to around 78, potentially because of lesser parental stimulation and lack of engagement with other children. Hence, it’s important to properly engage with our children - even little babies - and help them find joy in uncertainty.
Acknowledge her emotions.
Improve your relationship with your child by acknowledging his feelings of sadness and disappointment before you work on regulating his emotions.
As you adapt to the various guidelines, acknowledge your child’s feelings, pain and disappointment so that she can trust you to understand how she’s feeling. This helps her feel the emotions so that she can learn to regulate them by creating coping mechanisms and neural pathways which will aid her in life.
Show her how to regulate her emotions.
Help your child regulate her emotions by going out for a walk in an Ergobaby carrier - it also helps her nap.
With all the ever-changing social distancing COVID-19 guidelines, it’s understandable to feel fear, anxiety and panic. Try to rein in your emotions with self-care practices. Examples include physical exercise, listening to music, reading in nature, or growing greens with NParks' seed packets. Your child can regulate her emotions by journaling, drawing, painting, playing and writing letters to her friends. Calm your grumpy infant with a walk outside - either by carrier or stroller. For toddlers and preschoolers, spend a little time each day sharing three good things that happened, e.g., having a good meal. This can help create precious moments of joy.
Motherswork Recommends: carriers and strollers ($69 to $2,199)
Improve your emotional connection.
Boost your child’s emotional connection with you by setting aside some time for her each day. Put aside the work responsibilities, her homework, any home-based learning and the phone. Instead, spend this time listening to her stories and sharing yours, which will help foster closeness and warmth in relationships and help her feel joy. Try asking questions such as what she’s struggling with or what she learned today and be a better listener.
Research shows that children who eat dinner with their families - even once a week - are less likely to exhibit negative behaviour later on. Try to make mealtime a joy-filled time for your little ones, and fuel their curiosity and independence by discussing issues happening around the world. Children who enjoy these family meals also have larger vocabularies, better manners, higher self-esteem and healthier diets.
Bond over daily tasks.
Let your little one safely help you with your daily chores, such as preparing snacks.
So much of a mum’s responsibility includes juggling the mental load, making endless to-do lists to be done around the home and at work. Rope your child in to help you with tasks of her choice, such as putting away her toys or helping to fold her clothes. Otherwise, they can also help you make simple food or snacks for mealtime. This way, your child learns self-sufficiency and can be happy achieving what she set out to do. Do be kind to yourself and your children - it’s okay if the laundry doesn’t get done, or if the home is not as pristine as you’d like it to be. Yes, it’s also fine if your older toddlers and preschoolers have McDonald’s once in a while.
Create predictable routines.
Children respond well to daily routines - knowing what to expect helps give them security and comfort. Plan out the daily routines, trying to adhere as closely to your regular schedule at work, school and at home as possible. Alternate between structured and unstructured play sessions.
Increase screen time to bond with family and friends online.
During this time of uncertainty, it’s okay to be a little more lenient about screen time, especially when connecting with family and friends your child has not seen in ages.
Connect with your family, friends and colleagues via online mediums, such as WhatsApp, Skype or FaceTime, especially to the extended family your little one may not have met in forever. Your toddler or preschooler can also remotely hang out with her friends via these online mediums, or have one friend over at a time to play with. Throw virtual parties for your little one to accommodate more guests, or have a few intimate celebrations with your closest family and friends.
Be adaptable and collaborate on solutions.
As the situation constantly evolves, try to take it in your stride. Be aware, accept and then exercise control over what you can. If your child is a toddler or preschooler, you can involve her in the problem solving process and try to come up with a solution together. Examples of this include childcare, birthday celebrations and things to do at home.
Go out safely with your little one.
According to the Singapore National Eye Centre, try to schedule around 1 to 2 hours of outdoor play a day to slow down childhood myopia.
Adhere to the safe distancing guidelines while going out. Going to the beach, the park, for a bike ride or a hike allows you to spend time together as a nuclear family. Alternatively, vaccinated parents can also bring their little ones to indoor playgrounds to burn off their energy. Other benefits include getting adequate amounts of sunlight, and improving their sensory skills. Remember to practice good hygiene and use hand sanitisers, face shields and masks. Families can also go to various attractions in Singapore, preferably during off-peak hours when it’s less crowded.
Create joy - let your children play.
Playing with water and Green Toys’ tugboat helps your little one improve his motor skills and learn about cause and effect.
Benefits of play include creating and testing new neural connections to find and develop skills and talents. When learned in play, it helps learning and memory, helps the brain to work better, improves optimism and creativity. Others include improving reaction time, and increasing your child’s empathy.
Play with sand, water and play dough to build her coordination, learning about actions and consequences and fine motor skills. These could also include sensory play, drawing and painting. Otherwise, let her imagination run wild with cardboard boxes, dress-up, role play, doll and character play, helping her develop her social play and express her feelings.
Get her to move her body by dancing, running, jumping, and swinging, whether in the house or at the nearby playground or park. Strap your infant in her carrier and dance with wild abandon - it relaxes both of you and she will nap. For less messy play, try blocks, jigsaws, and basic board games. Relive your childhood, playing treasure hunt, building haunted houses, camping in the living room, or having a movie marathon with toddlers and preschoolers.
Try to give back.
During this time, there are a lot of communities who may need more help. Discuss ways to be responsible and compassionate. For example, children can be responsible by practicing good hygiene and wearing masks or face shields and staying at home more. Involve your child in getting items to donate in-kind to needy communities via platforms like Giving.sg or SG Cares. Giving and sharing creates great inner joy in helping others to improve their lives.
Focus on the positive.
As your child adjusts to having more free time, she may devise her own amusements, such as practicing the ukelele.
Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, some children may feel more joy - not just because they may not have to go to school. Instead of packing their day with myriad activities, they get to slow down, take more chances and experience more things. For example, they might learn how to be able to help prepare a meal, or butter their own bread, or go on a quick bike ride around the neighbourhood. Taking these chances helps her regain control of her life and so she can handle disruptions on her own for better well-being. Of course, just ensure she’s in a safe space for her to explore. For those with siblings, they may improve their camaraderie, learn how to handle their conflicts internally and share their interests.