The shift coronavirus pandemic has brought into the lives of everyone, to the families, and the style of parenting is sudden but worth meditating over. We have been thrust into a new way of living. Many of us have not experienced such a situation before. Navigating through the sudden shift is challenging and overwhelming. This is a time of tremendous loss and change too.
In any event, the development of the child never stops. The development of a child keeps happening, so it matters, and the early stages of childhood development are crucial for them to flourish as adults. Parents and caregivers are facing difficulties to keep up with the change and adapt to new ways. Children, as well as parents, are not able to do basic outdoor activities such as educational trips, family vacations, camping, etc. This, too, is increasing stress, and conflicts at home, besides adapting to the new way of living.
So, the question comes ‘How to comfort small children amidst Covid?‘. Read the blog from start to finish, if you have a small child at home aged 2-8 years.
Mental and Emotional Trauma-
Parents find themselves in a difficult situation explaining what’s happening in the world to their children. Small children, especially toddlers, are always curious and, while they are in their developing age, ask questions about anything and everything. It is important to answer their questions and handle the situation mindfully. Parents must groom the child as per her/his development stage**. Explaining something to a three-year-old is different from explaining something to a teenager, we all know. Small children, especially, toddlers leap back and forth between reality and their imagination. They make sense of the world with ‘Why-What-How’ questions.
With that said, talking about the adversity of any situation might take a toll on a child’s mental and emotional health.
- It is advised to create a covid-free zone with less negative energy when toddlers or small children are around.
- It’s imperative to limit their exposure to watching or listening to the news.
It can be challenging to explain the loss of a family member to a toddler. Parents need to use the language of love and comfort. Accepting death as a natural process takes time for adults, and it’s almost impossible to expect it from a small child.
Sense of Discontinuity
Adaption is a human super-power. But, it’s a long process. Parents’ worries are natural on the discontinuation small children are facing in their routine, hence in their mental growth. “But we can tell ourselves that we’ve heading towards a renewed parenting style, and at present, things are ever-changing”, a perspective that I remind myself to keep going positively.
Toddlers are used to a routine that they like to follow- a sense of regularity is what keeps them mentally healthy. They have meals at a certain time. They have preschool activities, coloring time, outdoor time, reading time. These routines are difficult to hold on to due to various reasons. There might be a sick person at home. The toddler itself might be sick. Parents or caregivers might be stuck at work. This does create irregularity and uncertainty among toddlers, leaving them confused.
In such a situation,
- Parents must make their children follow a routine, a new one. Introducing a new routine will make them ready to adapt to change at a very young age.
- Surprise is needed, too, so the irregularities and uncertainties can be explained as a change in the plan to them and for us to keep going buoyantly. Please avoid using this perspective as an excuse and try keeping up with the routine or schedule as much as possible.
If you want to have a look at our son, 5-year-young-child, Pratham’s routine that we’re following, check it out here.
Small children, especially toddlers, thrive on regularity and knowing what to expect. Little things like getting them out of their pyjamas and getting dressed for the day would help a kid feel productive and excited.
- Parents need to schedule their time and find ways to make connections as a family.
- Parents taking turns with child’s activities and chores so that each one is getting enough time for themselves.
Work-From-Home as a Challenge
Working from home is challenging, which parents are facing during the pandemic. Toddlers, being at a growing age, ask for a lot of attention. It isn’t easy to manage work and kids simultaneously unless there’s a helping hand.
So, it becomes important to make sure that the children know their parents’ work schedule and be reminded timely. They might create a disturbance that leads to unproductivity. So, family members coming together as a team is needed in such situations.
Here’s what I do–
- Plan out my day a night before,
- put things and activities in time chunks (exercise time, meditation time, meal preparation time, mealtime, activity time, reading time, etc.)
- And share it with my partner in advance. This is how I plan myself regularly or otherwise; you may give this a try too.
Planning a night before is helpful and has been emphasized largely by Marie Forleo.
Remember, basic tasks are to be done first and foremost, especially when we are in unpredictable and uncertain times like covid-19, and try accomplishing the basic and important ones in the first half of the day.
Taking care of a Sick Child
Treating mild symptoms of Covid in children is the same as treating any other respiratory virus such as a cold or flu.
- It requires a lot of rest and intake of fluids to regain energy.
- Other than prescribed medicines, it’s important to use other support systems.
- A humidifier in the bedroom is helpful, especially if the child has nasal congestion and cough. (recommended by Dr Rakesh Malhotra, Malhotra Clinics, Dwarka-4, New Delhi)
- Kids over 12 months of age can be fed honey (only if they are not allergic to it) which is good for their throat.
- Dressing a kid appropriately, so they don’t feel too cold or too warm, is helpful.
It’s important to keep in mind that it will take time for things to get back to normal, or we coming to new terms of adaptations. Even after Covid, a toddler would require proper care and attention.
- Their diet is the most important aspect. It must include green leafy vegetables, high protein food, and vitamin C-rich goodness.
- Keeping up with the intake of fluids and staying hydrated in the recovery period is important too.
After nutrition comes hygiene, a child’s sanitation is important.
- Precautions like washing hands regularly, face masks, sanitize if water not available, and social distancing have to be taught to them so that they feel comfortable when going out resumes.
Here’s Post- Covid recovery tip from Dr Sweta Bajaj (Dental Surgeon and Lactation Consultant), something which goes overlooked:
- Change the toothbrush, tongue cleaner, dental floss and other oral hygiene products as these can continue to harbour the virus, so it is better to discard them and get new ones. 🙏
On top of everything, creating a sense of normalcy around toddlers is the need of the hour. It is crucial to make them sense positivity. They must feel safe and heard as their families surround them.
Try and shield your four walls from negative thoughts and suffering that’s around. This is not to say that we should stop being empathetic; in fact, this might be the right time to introduce the feeling of empathy to your little one with the tiny contributions you can make. But the need of the hour to survive and thrive is to develop the right positive environment at your home, like a complete ‘ecosystem’ in itself. The need is to re-align your priorities and re-design your little world!
Dear Parents, your contribution in allowing your comforting and nourishing thoughts for yourself and your child matters. It is safe to feel safe!
Sending you loads of best wishes and healing energies!
**Four Stages of Cognitive Development in children as outlined by Jean Piaget’s theory:
- Stage 1: Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years- A child is learning about the world through their movements, sensations, and manipulating objects. They are extremely egocentric.
- Stage 2: Preoperational stage: ages 2 to 7- A child begins to think through symbols, answers from people around them. They are egocentric and struggle to view things from other’s perspectives.
- Stage 3: Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11- A child is becoming aware of external feelings and emotions other than their own, beginning to think logically about concrete events, building inductive logic, less egocentric.
- Stage 4: Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up- A child is ready to use logic to solve problems and start building deductive logic.
Note: All children have different rates of development. For any concerns about a developmental milestone, talk to your child’s paediatrician. In many cases, early intervention and treatment help in better outcomes.