Six Ways to Support My Child during COVID-19
By Angela Kotze, SEN Head Teacher (Early Childhood Education)
Unsettling situations such as the current circumstance we all find ourselves in can be unnerving and confusing for both us as parents, and our children. As a family unit, there may be a sense of anxiousness and lack of control over our external situation too. Understanding this, and being aware of these effects, is the first step to establishing a sense of safety, security and support for our children. New behavioral challenges, heightened emotions and even regressive behaviors may occur, and this is okay. In fact, this is normal when change and stress become prevalent in our environment. Remember to be gracious and forgiving to yourself and to your child through this time.
With the above in mind, here are ways we can support our children through these stressors and daily changes that have risen because of COVID-19:
- Practise self-care and awareness of your own emotions. It is crucial that you do not overlook your own mental well-being and emotions. Recognising how you feel and how those feelings affect your interactions as a parent, allows you to respond to your child with greater intention. Take time to put self-care practices in place for yourself, such as mindfulness routines or deep breathing.
- Be present. Take time to listen and understand what your child is communicating to you through their words, bodies and emotions. Let them tell you what they need to know about the current situation, to feel safe. Let them know you are available for them.
- Simple. Honest. Truth. Share honest information that is developmentally appropriate with your child about the current situation. How you share this information depends on their age and what details you share will depend on what they need to know, as shared in point number two. Modify the details and language of your explanations according to their cognitive abilities and modify the content according to what they need from you.
- Validate and acknowledge how your child is feeling. Depending on their age, your child will need to make sense of information and make sense of how they are feeling. Reflecting together helps them understand that what they feel is okay, no matter how big or overwhelming the emotion. Get creative with how you support this expression and reflection: brainstorming, mark making, story books and even imaginative storytelling to connect with your child can help them make sense of the situation.
- Provide routines. Setting routines and boundaries will help children feel reassurance and normalcy, and this is needed tremendously more during this time.
- Engage perspective. Let your child be ‘hands on’ in ways that empower them, and help them see a context greater than themselves. For younger children, they can create their own hand washing song, or learn how to put on a mask. Older children can be encouraged to see and support people who are on the frontline such as nurses, and people who are less fortunate and feel the burden of Covid-19 harshly. This small step of support goes a big way to help a child feel in control and understand others.
Written by Angela Kotze
Angela Kotze is the SEN Head Teacher in Early Childhood Education at YCIS. She is passionate about teaching, family and child well-being. She feels honoured to be able to spend her days supporting individuals and celebrating their uniqueness! She has been part of the YCIS family for almost 7 years, and has made Hong Kong her home for the last 9 years.