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“A child who sings is a happy child – Elder Enrique Falabella”

We all want our children to be happy, don’t we! It is important to understand what makes them happy and what makes them stressed! Don’t be surprised. Yes, our children are capable of getting stressed too. Surveys worldwide indicate an increase in stress levels in children because of the lockdown.

Let us try to understand the challenges being faced in lockdown are and how it impacts our little ones –

Related: Top Hacks For Working From Home With Children

Challenges:

  • Daily routine gets disturbed (E.g. Irregular food, play and naptime)
  • Limited physical activity in the absence of outdoor play
  • Parents struggling to engage children in age-appropriate content
  • Time constraint for parents while striking a work-life balance
  • Too much digital exposure
  • No social life and peer interaction

Impact:

  • High level of anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Temper tantrums
  • Reduced appetite/ fussy eating
  • Irregular sleep
  • Other behavioural issues

Here are some ways to help children in such challenging times –

  1. Set a routine for the child
  2. Physical Activities
  3. Pretend play/ Imaginative play
  4. Mood Meter
  5. Mindfulness
  6. Virtual play dates

 

1. Set a routine for the child

kids habit

Routines give children a sense of security and stability. Predictable routines help children understand what to expect during the transition and not worry about ‘what if’ situations. As children know what is expected of them, it reduces pressure on them and helps them feel in control of the situation

You can make a visual time table for children. A visual timetable is a schedule that uses objects, photos, pictures or symbols to show what’s planned for a child’s day. Remember to create a time table with some room for flexibility too.

It can include the following –

  • Wake-up time
  • Bath times
  • Mealtimes
  • Study time
  • Household chores
  • Playtime
  • Family time
  • Naptimes and bedtime

Also read: Start Them Young: 7 Healthy Family Habits To Cultivate

2. Physical Activities

kids running

Plan some physical activities for children and limit the time of your child doing sedentary activities. Physical activities help children build strong muscles & bones, channelize their energy & improve their confidence and self-esteem. Children get a good sleep that results in better health condition also help in destressing. According to Kids Health, toddlers and preschool children should be encouraged to play actively several times a day. Toddlers should get at least 60 minutes active play every day and pre-schoolers should have at least 120 minutes active play every day.

It is also mentioned here that this time should include planned, adult-led physical activity and unstructured active free play. Here are activities that help children do physical activities with fun:

  • Physical exercise: Make it fun by including animal movements – say hop like a bunny rabbit, jump like horses, or stretch like a giraffe etc.
  • Music and Movement: Music and movement help children build movement skills, develop coordination, balance, strength and endurance. Children also improve vocabulary and language comprehension along with physical health. In this way, children are learning to move and moving to learn at the same time.

Here are some songs that children would love to dance to –

a. Let’s star jump

b. The Gummy Bear

c. Hot potato

d. Baby Shark

3. Pretend play / Imaginative play

kids train toys

Does your child love pretend play? Young children learn by pretending & imagining. You can use pretend play to fulfil your child’s wishes. E.g. How about going for a –

  • ‘Virtual Picnic’ – Pack your food, get dressed up, wear your shoes and be ready for the picnic! Wait aren’t we supposed to invite our friends. Use any video app and call your family and friends. Eat together, sing together and smile together!
  • Travel time – Does your child want to go and meet grandparents during the summer vacation? How about doing pretend play of a train journey/flight journey. Get the suitcase ready, design a ticket and pack the bag. Do a video call with grandparents and show them what have you planned to bring for them. Don’t worry about bringing a real suitcase, even your cardboard box can become a suitcase in pretend play.
  • Trip to the mall – How about pretend play trip to the mall to buy toys. Tell your child to clean all toys, arrange it like they do in a mall. How about you selling these toys to your child?

4. Mood Meter

Children throw tantrums when they are not able to express their emotions. So even though your child might be getting frustrated because of the lockdown, he/she might not be able to express it.

You can play some games that help your child label his/her emotions. You can make a ‘mood meter’ which will be a pictorial representation of some emotions e.g. it will have emoticons showing happy, sad, or angry faces.

Ask your child to indicate what he/she is feeling by pointing to the corresponding emoticon. You can start using a new emotion word in your conversation. This will help build the ‘emotion vocabulary’ of your child and also reduce stress for them when they start expressing their emotion.

5. Mindfulness

child meditation

Mindfulness can be described as the practice of paying attention in the present moment. Mindfulness improves focus, concentration and reduces stress. Activities here include-

  • Mindful breathing– Notice what you breathing feels/ sounds like? We will feel it in different parts of our body – place both your hands on your chest, above your heart and notice how your chest moves up and down as you breathe. You can feel your hands moving up and down.
  • Mindful Movement- Clap your hands together thrice and then rub your hands for 10 seconds really fast, now pull your hands apart. What do you feel? A tingling in your hands, some warmth and you can notice the warmth spread as you place it on your shoulder or hands. By doing mindful movements you are noticing how your body feels right now. These are just a few of them, there are more to the list.

6. Virtual play dates

Kids using screen

Remember that children are missing their peer group because of the lockdown and are not able to socialize. Arrange for a virtual playdate where they can sing a song, tell story, show and tell or simply chit-chat with their friends. If the online conversation is not working for you, record videos of your child with a message to his/her friend.

There are many more activities that you can do with your children. Keep them engaged, make them feel secured and show your love and affection in more pronounced ways. Yes, they are not able to socialize, but is it not a blessing that they get to spend more time with their Mummy and Dadda!

Hope you have a wonderful time with your children and create memories to be cherished for a lifetime!

“The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day-O.A Battista”

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