The whole world is in a state of turmoil as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools are closed, outings non-existent, mingling with friends – wishful thinking and everyone just confined to their homes. Parenting has always been a 24/7 job with a lot of responsibilities. But parenting during a pandemic is an entirely new challenge for millions of families and definitely a whole lot more for parents with children of determination. But there is always something good to look forward to, even in what looks to be a very bleak situation. Families are spending a lot more time at home now and parents can use this opportunity to bond with their kids by giving them their exclusive undivided attention. Actions speak louder than voice! Your kids are constantly watching you, you are a role model to them, so always be polite and gentle when speaking to them. Words impact children a lot. Do not let the stress of your present situation, your work loads or current circumstances, over shadow your words. Use positive statements that make your kids happy and be serious when committing to spend quality time together. An organised timetable is a very important key for success. Experts suggest developing a modified version of your child’s regular school routine which fits in with your home environment. Build in extra time for activities which encourage physical and mental well-being and include self- care as a part of their day. Keep in mind that an empty mind is a devil’s workshop and utilize agreed time slots in productive ways by engaging kids in indoor activities that may help them in developing and strengthening their skills and abilities.

Some examples of activities are:

If your child is happy working with colours, encourage them to paint. Let them paint with cotton buds, cotton balls, fingertips or whatever other resources they are comfortable with.

Rolling a dice:
Board games are powerful tools for family bonding and learning social skills like sharing and taking turns. Choose a game of your child’s liking and remember to tweak the rules to suit them – the aim is to let your children have fun.

Acts of Kindness Challenge:
Doing this challenge will not only teach your children how to be kind to others, but will also show them how to help others. ​Use printable Acts of Kindness sheets and encourage your kids to be kind to others. For each act that qualifies, have them color in the relevant picture. A variant to this would be for them to also explain the kind act performed, before they color it in.

Mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1:
E​xplain to your kids that they will be practicing mindfulness, which is a skill that will help them stay calm and in control. Have kids look around their room to find 5 things they can see, 4 things they can touch, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell, and 1 thing they can taste. This is a grounding exercise that can help manage tough emotions and provide a mental reset whenever required. After the first try, you can then move to another room and begin the same game all over again.

SEL Read Alouds:
Choose any read aloud book. As you read through the book, stop and discuss the social emotional skills embedded in the book. As an example, one skill that carries across all picture books, is empathy. You can talk about how the characters might feel, what they might be thinking, and how you can tell. Depending on which book you choose, many different social emotional skills can be discussed from confidence to decision-making and beyond.

Go Tech:
Technology activities enable a child to feel accomplished and empowered. There are many games and apps available online which will help your child learn about the world around them.

Empathy in Action:
At any given time while watching shows or movies, pause and discuss how the characters are feeling. You might ask: “How Are They Feeling?”and“How Would You Feel If That Happened To You?”Use this conversation and build on it by asking them to consider How Others Feel, discussing Social Cues, and communicating how it was important to care about others emotions.

Teach daily life skills:
Sort out clothes before putting them into the washing machine. It will help them learn about colours and textures. Cook simple dishes together and talk about vegetables, fruits and their nutritional values.

Inspirational quotes:
Find a few examples of inspirational quotes. This will vary depending on the ages of your children. For example, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Discuss the quote and what it means. Then, give them a topic and have your kids find or create their own quotes on that topic. Have them write them down and share them. You can even have kids design their own posters for the quote.

Practice positive affirmations:
E​xplain that positive affirmations are kind and supportive words we say to ourselves to lift us up. For example, before a big test, we might say, “I can do this!” Ask kids to think of their own positive words they might say. Have kids find their favorite positive self-talk statements. Practice saying them, writing them down, and creating cards for each of their favorites.

Just chat!:
Start by asking kids questions about anything from their favourite food to their favourite activities. Many questions can help on conversation skills, turn-taking and self awareness.

Remember that the current scenario has resulted in significant changes to everybody’s routine. As adult’s we may find ways to understand and accept them, but children will struggle to come to terms with it. Be empathetic towards your children, even though you may often be coming close to losing it. It’s okay to admit that it becomes too much for you sometimes, but don’t allow it to get messy. Always be positive. Stay home, stay safe. This is our mission now. Our future depends on how wisely we act now.

Ms. Ayesha Babar
People of Determination Coordinator,
Shining Star International School, Abu Dhabi.
B.S (Special Education)

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