Mrs. Hiede Schmidt, Early Childhood Education Coordinator
During the past few months, parents have been both blessed and challenged with having so much time in close proximity for sustained periods of time with their children. In these uncertain times, it can be difficult to keep a sense of routine and calm in order for children to feel safe. In such times it is more important than ever to retain structure; routines provide children with a sense of stability. Keeping to a healthy lifestyle will support children to regulate their emotions and make positive behaviour choices.
Here are a few parenting tips and ideas……..
Focus on Positive Discipline
Focus on positive things happening in your home and in your child’s environment. By acknowledging your child’s effort when he/she is helping out more with chores or showing initiative in completing tasks, your child will be motivated to repeat these behaviours. A simple, “thank you for sitting so nicely during your Zoom session today” or “I noticed how you were so patient with your little brother today when you were playing” will help children continue to strive towards positive behaviours and continue to enrich their relationships. By focusing on children’s effort, this will establish a sense of pride and further build self-esteem in your child. Children need a little “sunshine” in these times of uncertainty.
Clarity and Communication
Children also need clear communication and clarity at this time. A “when, then” approach is a great verbal tool to try. Be close to your child and establish eye contact when communicating as this will increase the likelihood of your child following through. For example, “when you have finished 20 minutes of your homework, then we can go to the playground”.
Set goals and plans
Many aspects of our lives are unpredictable at the moment so having some semblance of control gives children a voice, choice and predictability. A simple weekly plan to eat out, take a hike or walk, set a weekly playdate or a daily story/art/play routine will increase a child’s excitement as well as security. If there are tasks that are “must do’s”, try to plan these exciting tasks in between.
Pick your battles
During challenging times, it is important for parents to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents remember to take care of themselves in order to take care of your children. Things like taking breaks and “tag team” parenting will help recharge those batteries. During this time of increased stress and uncertainty parents can feel overwhelmed. Some questions to ask yourself when parenting or disciplining is “does the problem put anyone in danger?”, “how will I feel about this later today or tomorrow?”, “can this situation change or is it permanent?”(AAP). Taking a breath and answering these questions will help with putting the parenting challenge with your child in perspective and enable you to retain a calm and psychologically safe environment for yourself and your children.
“Play” with your child
No matter which age your child is, high quality time is always valued. Multiple chunks of uninterrupted time with a child supports children in managing their emotions and behaviours, strengthens bonds as well as supports cognitive development. Children need this planned for and prioritized play more than ever to give them a continued sense of wonder, outlet for creativity and innovation as well as to appreciate the beauty and positivity in the world.
Share your affections
With all of the social distancing measures in place, affection with your child has become even more important than ever. The human touch is what is lacking from many different aspects of our lives; friendships, school, sports, time with loved ones far away. Children need physical reassurance and these are often precious times where children feel comfortable sharing their emotions and an opportunity for parents to reassure and bond with their children. These special moments help children to manage “big emotions” and make sense of what is happening around them.
On a TIS related note, thank you parents for all of the amazing work you are doing with your children. We value your talents, patience, trust and partnership in education always, and especially during this period of on-line home learning.
Hiede Schmidt has taken on the role of Early Childhood Education Coordinator (PK/JK) this year. She has worked extensively with children aged 2-6 years at Yew Chung International School in Shanghai, Overseas Family School in Singapore and is in her 2nd year at TIS.