As the pandemic continues, kids who attend traditional schools are dismissed for the rest of the school year in most cases.
This means children are staying with parents, grandparents and other family members during the time they would normally be at school.
Parenting in this situation is not easy to say the least. It can be stressful and memorable at the same time.
As children's ministry leaders, we have a great opportunity to come alongside parents and their families and offer support and encouragement. Here are some parenting tips to share with parents.
If you have more than one child, spend time with each child individually. Set aside the same time each day to do this. Your children need one-on-one time with you.
Take a cue from your children. Ask they what they would like to do and make it happen if it's feasible.
Play games and have fun with your children.
If you have a baby or toddler:
If you have a preschooler:
Read a book.
Make drawings with crayons or pencils.
Dance to music or sing songs.
Do a chore together – make cleaning and cooking a game.
If you have a elementary age child:
Keep smiling. Use positive words when telling your child what to do. Instead of saying "get this junky mess cleaned up" say "please clean your room up."
When communicating: Don't shout. Speak in a calm voice. Get their attention by using their name.
Compliment them when they do something well. This will help them see you care and you notice their work.
Create new routines. The virus has temporarily taken away much of our normal routines. Children need routines, especially during a time of crisis. Put in place some new routines they can follow. And let them help you make the new routines.
Get them exercising. This can help burn some energy and stress. A few examples are jumping jacks, burpees, running in place, etc. There are also lots of free exercise routines on the web for kids and their parents.
Reassure your child. Talk about how you are keeping them safe. Ask them for ideas on how they can stay safe.
Be open and listen to your children. Your children will look to you for support and reassurance. Listen to your children when they share how they are feeling. Give them comfort. Your child may be scared or confused. Give them space to share how they are feeling and let them know you are there for them.
Teach them to wash their hands regularly.
See who can touch their face the least number of touches. Make it a game and reward the winner.
Remember, you must set the example. Keep safe distances. Wipe things down with cleaner. Keep a positive attitude. Resist the urge to complain. If you give off a vibe of worry, anger, uncertainty or fear, your children will follow that line of thinking as well.
Children are going to sometimes misbehave when they are tired, hungry, afraid or learning independence. And that is not easy to deal with when you're with them all day. Take a deep breath and keep your sanity.
Redirect their attention when needed. If you see your child getting restless and bored with what they are doing, redirect them to something else that will hold their attention.
Stay calm. Take a 10 second pause and breathe in and out slowly five times. This will help you calm down when you've reached your limit. This is a stressful time. Take care of yourself so you can care for your children in return. Taking a pause can also be helpful when you find your child is irritating you or has done something wrong. It gives you a chance to be calmer.
Find a friend you can talk with. Millions of people are going through this just as you are. Find someone that you can talk with over the phone. What are they personally doing to cope? What routines or activities are they doing with their kids?
Talk with your children about what is happening. Be honest and open. How much you share should be age appropriate. Allow your child to talk freely. Ask them open-ended questions and kind out how much they already know. Answer honestly.
After a conversation about the virus, switch to a game, activity or something fun to help them avoid getting stressed out by dwelling on the virus and its effect.
This is uncharted territory for most of us. Pray for parents as you share tips and insights about parenting during this time of crisis.
Your turn. What are some other tips or ways you are helping parents walk through this with their children? Share them in the comment section below.