GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) – Raising young children can be tricky, especially in the midst of a global pandemic and stay-at-home order. Experts from Children and Screens offer advice for parents to navigate these uncertain weeks ahead. It’s important to understand that adaptability, patience, and understanding are the keys to ensuring healthy growth and relationship building during this crucial time in your child’s development. The experts offer 12 tips for parents with young kids:
Don’t feel guilty
Parent’s are doing it all right now and have a lot on their plate so don’t feel guilty if your kids are engaging in more screen time than you’d typically allow. There are so many awesome educational resources online, even for very young kids, and you should make the most of these resources while they are free and available. The use of video chatting with friends and family is also highly encouraged to maintain social ties.
Role with it
The whole family has needed time to adjust to this new normal that is happening. Basically overnight you became a stay-at-home parent, teacher, and superhero for your kids. Be patient! Children are adaptable and will thrive with well-intentioned efforts.
Reach out and touch someone
With social distancing in full effect and continuing for at least a few more weeks, it’s impossible for toddlers to get the kind of in-person attention they’d normally receive from friends and family. In order to maintain these social connections, it’s a great idea for you to serve as the “hands and heart” from your loved ones while video chatting. For example – if Grandpa motions to “tickle” your baby’s tummy, tickle your baby’s tummy. By taking this role, you can help nurture the relationship between the young child and loved ones!
When video chatting with young children, try rhymes, songs, dancing, finger plays, and games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek. The more toddlers can participate while doing screen time, the more they’ll develop.
Talk Talk Talk
Be a part of your young child’s screen time. Sitting with them, holding them, and talking to them are all important ways to help your child learn and feel safe. Make a game out of whatever your child is watching or doing. For example – point and label the objects and people that appear on the screen.
One More Time!
It’s OK if your child wants to watch the same show or video over and over again. Children learn more with each repetition of a book, song, or video. The more the child watches, the more they will understand the educational content.
Pajama Day (Only 1x a week)
In uncertain times, kids benefit from predictability and daily structure. As best as you can, maintain a basic schedule and structure for you kids with things like meals, self-care, schoolwork, and screen time. Invite them to help you make and decorate a weekly schedule. Be sure to include time for fun and breaks!
Ready, Set, Play!
This is a great time for kids and adults to PLAY! Put on music and dance, work on a puzzle, play a board game, go play a yard game. Don’t forget to have fun with your little ones and take advantage of all this time together.
One size doesn’t fit all
It’s important for parents to understand that there are development differences between children of different ages. Homeschooling a kindergartener will be very different than homeschooling a middle schooler. While younger children may need you to keep a close eye on them, older and more independent kids can set goals and check in with you on their progress.
Physical objects and activities can help bridge the gaps presented by social distancing. For instance, schedule a virtual play date with your child’s friends or family. They can read a story together, play with stuffed animals, or other toys together over video chat. Joint activities will help your child stay connected with their friends and family!
The good, the bad, and the interactive
Screen time isn’t good or bad. What matters is how you choose to use it. Right now, screens can take your child to the zoo, museums across the world, national parks, and provide healthy movement games. Make the most of the current situation by finding active, engaging, meaningful, and fun interactive activities!
Bored in the USA
Not only is it OK to be bored, it’s beneficial. We are so often bombarded with stimulation and entertainment that we’re left with little time to explore our own thoughts and dreams. Use this time to develop a skill or hobby and to appreciate boredom!
At the end of the day, nothing is more important than making your child feel safe, nourished, and loved. It won’t always be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Thank you all parents who are doing it all right now for kids!
About Children and Screens:
Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is a 501C(3) national non-profit organization founded by Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra. Children and Screens advances interdisciplinary research, supports human capital in the field, informs and educates the public, and advocates for sound public policy for child health and wellness.