For many families, if not the vast majority, this current time represents a period of angst for them and their children.
What can we do to ease the pain, lighten the load, and help make the most of the situation?
Although young children cannot necessarily grasp the scientific reality of infectious disease, they certainly can and do observe the reactions and changes in the adults around them. And of course they recognize the change in our daily routines.
Here are three tips to help you with your children during these times.
1. Remain positive.
Probably number one on the list because it will set the tone for all other activities. How children perceive the adults in their lives acting and reacting, they will emulate in their own little worlds. The biggest service we can offer to a child is to keep a positive mental outlook in front of them, even though privately we may be struggling ourselves.
Some of us may have had young children during the times 9/11/2001, as a matter fact I myself did. I remember keeping the negativity of the events to myself; it was none of her business. By doing so, I shielded and protected her from unnecessary mental struggle and turmoil. Instead, I let her read about it in her school history books, as she got older in life.
Along these lines, the beautiful movie Life is Beautiful (1997) demonstrates this principle exactly.
2. Read to Young Children
Reading is conceptual and holistic. Grasping language precedes learning the alphabet and the other building blocks of formal reading and writing.
A child who is read to will begin “reading” on her own, even though she doesn’t specifically understand the words on a page. She will know and understand the art and practice of reading, and will mouth the descriptions of the pictures as she turns each page. Older preschool children may remember blocks of words, and the names of characters in the stories which have been read to them, and they may begin to recognize repetitive word patterns.
Overall, a child who is read to, even during the early life stage of infancy, will begin to appreciate the knowledge store which books are.
3. Get down on their level
When communicating with young children, keep in mind that to them adults are towering figures, like pine trees in a forest. By physically lowering ourselves to near their eye level (by either kneeling, stooping, sitting down, etc.) the large barrier of size is removed. The child may feel more relaxed and natural in communicating with the same-size adult.
Older children and adults in their full stature often may appear intimidating to a young child. Simply by getting down on their level, we may remove a very real and present barrier in our communication with them.
I hope these three tips: Remaining Positive, Reading to Children, and Getting Down on their Level, help a little bit in this time of crisis for all of us!