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Helping our children to cope with the new times.

Updated: Mar 18

Children have been stuck at home due to Covid-19 and with schools closed as well, they are able to interact with their peers only online. Here are 4 ways to help children tackle virtual living.

We know it's tough—keeping kids busy or happy or both in the current Covid-19 scenario. With schools closed for months, children are stuck at home and are unable to go out to play as well. Online schooling and digital entertainment assist a bit but endless screen time isn't preferred either.

The world has come to a collective standstill and days are slower than before. You are managing chores, work, sanitisation, parenting, and a gazillion other responsibilities.

The good part is, you care about your role as a parent, and that's why you are here. Half the battle is won. We truly understand your hesitations and helplessness to cope up with good parenting.

The importance of having a plan or structure in the household even amidst the precariousness cannot be debated. Here are 4 ways to help children cope with virtual living that will help you run the house smoothly and keep tantrums at bay.

Young student engaged in digital learning on tablet

1. Digital schooling and learning

Schools have been given the pass to reopen but only for a certain number of hours and the details are being decided by the state governments. It may seem that you don't have a huge role to play here, however, the child's immediate environment in a virtual learning setup is essential. It will help to have a schooling routine and a comfortable space for starters.

Also, digital schooling doesn't mean all the learning stops there. Deep diving and getting lost in books is a great stress buster, according to experts. You can read to your children, get them audiobooks, or hire a virtual storyteller (who can do the job for you). If your kids are avid readers, take it up a notch and help them write daily as a ritual.

There are also varied learning resources on Youtube and education-tech platforms. It's important to give children the flexibility in their learning choices, interests, and mediums.

Given that we have so much time in our hands, picking up new languages through apps like Duolingo and others is also a great way to bond with your family. Encourage your child to take up introductory lessons in your mother tongue, a vernacular, or foreign language.

2. Physical activity and exercising

This is a no-brainer. We all need to stay fit and build immunity irrespective of our age. This is challenging because parents and children are spending more time in front of screens than ever before.

We urge you to take a step back and re-assess your child's fitness needs. Get into the exercise mode through pushups, sit-ups, indoor catch, and hopscotch among others.

You could also opt for dance-along videos, yoga, or an interactive tennis video game to get that adrenaline pumping.

Motivate your little ones to participate in household chores that can act as a complementary exercise. Again, each child is unique, so chalk out different fitness routines that suit your offspring.

Doing such activities together is key because it helps in the development of their motor functions and builds the parent-child bond.

3. Mental wellness and positive discipline

Even when uncertainty-led-anxiety is at a peak high, it's important as parents to maintain calm and instil a sense of wellness in the children. This is easier than done.

A digital recess or limiting screen time, for all members of the household, is the first step to a mentally-sound family. Remember, we pass on our energies to our immediate inhabitants, so your positivity as a parent is contagious.

This one is as basic as it gets—address any queries that your little ones may have surrounding the pandemic. They are curious and answering their questions honestly, will help them understand certain rules like hand-wishing and social distancing better.

Lastly, it seems like all of us are unduly punished right now. Your child must be feeling the same or even worse. Therefore, choose positive discipline tools even when children make mistakes. Reward them for good behaviours, encourage creative ways of expression, and physical punishment is a strict no.

4. Communication and support

Communication is an understated tool when dealing with a crisis. Having open conversations with your children and enabling free-flowing discussions can serve as a stress outlet for your children, according to UNICEF guidelines.

This means you acknowledge their fears, listen patiently, empathise, and offer support.

Take small steps to address any issues, invite them to talk, and gauge how much awareness they already have about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Connecting with distant relatives over video calls will also help the child feel loved. As a parent, don't hesitate to get in touch with fellow-parents because, believe it or not, they are sailing in the same boat.

Most importantly, emit hope about the future to your kids. Let them know that scientists are working towards a vaccine, and eventually, things will get better. Feel free to use non-verbal communication like hugs, kisses, and winks to offer solace to the worried little hearts.

While prioritising your children is crucial, remember to take good care of yourself too. This could look like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and taking breaks to decompress.

Juggle your responsibility if it's a two-parent household and take turns watching the children. Caregivers need to look inwards before looking outward, which often means breathing and rejuvenating as a practice.

Finally, don't get too lost in all the planning and structuring. Things might not go accordingly, so problem-solve together and have some fun while you do it.

Organise movie nights, board games, or a hike (if possible) to get some downtime as a family. Remember that these strategies will take time and patience before they reap results, and that means you're learning to parent well.

This article first appeared in India Today, here is the link

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