Until a few weeks ago, each of us was rushing into a busy routine of life, working long hours, and sometimes doing several jobs with little space for family care. This haste creates gaps in care and relationships we build with our children.
We have often heard reflections from parents, regrets about not spending quality time with children and other family members.
Due to the situation created by Covid-19, we are obliged to stay in quarantine at home, which might not be an easy situation, but at the same time it can be turned into an opportunity for us to be near each other. During these days it is very important for parents to communicate and interact with their children to make them feel safe, loved and comforted.
Now is the time! #WeStayAtHome
Parents and grandparents, this is your opportunity to spend more quality time with children, to talk more with them, to get to know them better, to play more and invest purposefully in a strong relationship of trust and love.
The main advice of any informative material on the parent-child relationship is to spend time with the child. This is completely true and an essential element which shouldn’t be ignored. These relationships are built on interaction, which is characterized by care, support, trust, empathy, acceptance, energy, and time.
Here are some tips for parents and grandparents who, when interacting or communicating with their children in this situation, should keep in mind:
Promoting security: We all need to feel secure in challenging times, especially children. Home is a safe place to stay, a place where each of us has his/her own physical and spiritual space. It is the warm nest that brings us all together in support of each other, in promoting and respecting the rules and the fact that together we can cope in any situation.
Promoting Calmness: During a pandemic, fear, anxiety and psychological distress are common, so keeping calm through breathing exercises or other techniques is valuable to you as a parent first, and then to your children. Transmit this serenity to your children.
Promoting Hope: The situation can be chaotic and overloaded with feelings of fear and insecurity, but you as parents are responsible for transmitting hope and confidence through open and constant communication. In a child friendly way, you may explain that this situation will pass and we will be able to return to the normal routine in school and society.
It is important to keep in mind that parental care in such situations should consider the following points:
Creating a sense of security: The child looks at the parents to create a sense of security. The ability of parents / caregivers to be calm is particularly important to your child. Share with children in simple words how you feel and explain to them ways in which we all try to cope with the situation. Emphasize that you, as well as other adults, are doing your best to ensure that people and children are safe and secure;
Be available: Allow children to ask questions. Avoid details that may frighten the child, be careful with information given by the media. Correct the information that is unclear to the child about the current risk. You need to remind your child that there are people who work to keep their families safe. Give clear explanations for what is happening whenever your child asks you. Keep in mind that you may need to simplify difficult information;
Respect all feelings: your child's feelings, thoughts, and behaviors may be different from yours;
Consider age: each child reacts differently to emergency situations according to the stage of emotional development. Each stage brings to the child a new understanding of the world and the events that take place in it. Consequently, it is important to explain events in words that children can understand.
Reduce media exposure: minimize exposure of your children to media coverage of health emergencies by COVID-19. Viewing images or listening to descriptions of those affected or their consequences will only increase children's anxiety.
Extend your hand: Talk to children about how they can take care of personal hygiene and by following the rules, you help not only yourself but others as well.
Express yourself through play and art: Some children may not talk about their feelings and fears. Help them express these feelings through drawings, play, writing, or other age-appropriate activities;
 Curriculum of Positive Parenting; February 2020; WVA&K resource, Module #5, “Building a resilient family”, pg 96-97