COVID-19 Parenting: Caring for Your Child During a Pandemic
COVID-19 has effectively changed virtually every aspect of our lives. On a very personal level, family dynamics have turned on their heads – parents finding themselves having to transform their home into a makeshift office while ensuring that their children are safe. For those whose children are involved in remote schooling, parents will need to make time to ensure that their little ones can keep up with the curriculum despite the disruptions. Parents of a single child may have to juggle hectic schedules and heavy commitments; parents of many children struggle even more. Parents of kids on the spectrum face even more challenges.
There is no doubt that parenthood is a herculean journey as it already is, but during a global pandemic, these hardships get significantly harder. Rising to the challenge may seem like a daunting task, but know that you are not alone. It may be difficult, but it is doable. With a little bit of planning and self-care, you can find a path forward as a family.
Safety During Coronavirus
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore has been gradually increasing, and the fear of the virus is relighted once again. As a parent, you play a vital role in safeguarding your child’s health and teaching them ways to protect themselves and the people around them. This starts by equipping them with the knowledge regarding COVID-19 and its preventive measures. Start by explaining the coronavirus as best as you can, tailoring the message based on their needs and abilities. Let them know your concerns and reassure them. Make sure that the message is succinct enough to ensure that they understand.
As for preventive measures, it is always best to start by teaching them how to thoroughly wash their hands. Effective hand washing means wetting both hands, using plenty of soap, and scrubbing all surfaces, every nook and cranny. Model proper hand washing techniques and observe your child as they follow your instructions. As an added safety measure, you can suggest singing a song so that they reach the 20 seconds mark. Beyond hand washing, make sure to practise sanitising high-touch areas and wear a mask, especially in a crowded area.
Meeting Your Child’s Psychosocial Needs
During a global pandemic where stresses are at an all-time high and with myriad limitations, your child’s psychosocial development is immediately at risk. Psychosocial development refers to one’s individual needs (psycho) merging with the demands of society (social). According to Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist, one goes through eight stages that build on each other, with more than half occurring before adulthood. At each stage, one will face and try to navigate the crisis. Upon resolving the issue, the individual will develop the necessary psychological strengths and characteristics to build the foundations one needs to be a healthy individual.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, a child has severe limitations as their exposure to the world gets smaller. However, that is not to say that it is impossible to meet your child’s psychosocial needs within the comfort of your own home.
If your child is a toddler or younger, it is important to provide them with a safe environment where they feel loved and are able to build and display their sense of self and autonomy. This means encouraging them to explore within the limits you set up. If your wishes to explore foods to discover what they like and do not like – let them, even if it means making a huge mess! By giving them the space they need, you are essentially helping them build their self-esteem and sense of self, which will go a long way.
For children that are slightly older, their value system would have changed according to society’s expectations. This means they will look at metrics to figure out where they stand, whether in academics, social settings, or otherwise. To help your child resolve a psychosocial conflict, you will want to be generous with encouragement and reinforcement in all areas of their life. Provide your child with positive experiences and social interactions, and this will help shape their identity, which allows them to navigate social situations and relationships.
Creating a Safe Space
Just like you, your child can feel overwhelmed about the coronavirus and the future. Be sure to create ample space for your child to practise mindfulness. A simple breathing exercise is sometimes enough to help them work through a worrisome situation. Be sure to also work out the issue with your child, by initiating and guiding them in a conversation. Listen without judgement, validate their feelings, and propose solutions that may help assuage their worries and even solve their problems.
Employing Additional Help
Parenting is already hard, but it becomes doubly difficult in a global pandemic. If you are looking for additional help, Mindchamps Allied Care can help. Our Early Intervention Programmes in Singapore are designed to give your child a much-needed boost in their development. Our team of Early Intervention Teachers will create an Individual Education Plan, where goals are set based on the child’s developmental needs as assessed by professionals and in consultation with caregivers. We work to give your child ample opportunities to grow and reach their fullest potential.
Book an appointment at one of our many therapy centres today.