COVID-19 has thrown life into disarray. However, being responsible, valuing money, and bonding with loved ones are a few important life skills you can help your child learn in these uncertain times. Something to cheer about!
Nobody was prepared for something so life-changing. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown have affected us and our children in ways we never imagined before. Wearing masks, physical distancing from people, work from home, and no school has become the new normal. Giving a lot of importance to practicing hygiene and staying home as much as possible is the new mantra.
"All children want to see themselves as response-able, powerful, and able to respond to what needs to be done. They need this for their self-esteem, and for their lives to have meaning." - Dr Laura Markham, parenting expert and author
However, keeping children occupied when they are stuck at home without formal schooling and unable to play with friends is a huge task. But, a silver lining is that the pandemic is creating opportunities for our children to learn some very important life skills, which we can hone.
Why life skills are important
According to the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, core life skills are crucial for learning, development, and making healthy choices. "These core capabilities support our ability to focus, plan for and achieve goals, adapt to changing situations, and resist impulsive behaviors. No one is born with these skills; they are developed over time through coaching and practice," it says.
Formal education helps children acquire knowledge but may or may not equip them with essential life skills.
However, situations like the Covid-19 pandemic provides children with an opportunity to learn about life. Here are five important life skills that your child can learn during this lockdown with your help.
In life, there will be several situations beyond our control, which bring us face to face with a great deal of uncertainty. Take, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic. We have no idea how long it will take for a surefire medical breakthrough to emerge in the form of a vaccine or successful treatment plan. Meanwhile, there's the fear of falling sick.
Here are three ways you can help your child deal with uncertainty:
Children, both young and old, can be affected by stress and anxiety brought on by the present situation. While older children may feel stressed listening to the news about the pandemic or talking to their friends, younger children may pick up anxiety cues from their parents. One of the important life skills children need to tide over adverse situations is resilience.
According to the American Psychological Association, building resilience the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress can help our children manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
Here are three ways you can help your child build resilience:
A vital life skill your child needs to be independent is a sense of responsibility. So, stop doing things for your child when she becomes capable of doing it herself. For instance, resist the urge to put the buttons on your preschooler's sweater just because she takes time to complete the task. Allow your older child to cook a simple dish, even though she may make a mess in the kitchen, and make sure she's involved in clearing up as well. To ensure that your child feels accountable for her actions, tell her that there will be consequences if she shuns responsibility. Explain to her how being responsible involves keeping her promises and completing the tasks assigned to her.
Dr Laura Markham, parenting expert and author of Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids, in an exclusive conversation with ParentCircle, says: "All children want to see themselves as responsible, powerful, and able to respond to what needs to be done. They need this for their self-esteem, and for their lives to have meaning."
Here are three things you could do to make your child more responsible:
In addition, you can help your child develop empathy and compassion by telling him about those less fortunate, who are struggling to cope with the pandemic. These include the homeless, the migrant workers trying to return to their native place, and the street vendors who have lost their livelihood.
While children are now spending more time with their parents, they are missing out on playing and interacting with their friends. In times of social distancing, maintaining friendships becomes a challenge. And this is a cause for concern for parents of shy children. Parents feel worried that staying away from peers can affect their children's socialization skills and make them withdrawn.
According to Dr. Nithya Poornima, a clinical psychologist from NIMHANS and a member of the ParentCircle Advisory Board, "Exposure to social situations is key to a child's social development, particularly for children who may have some vulnerabilities in terms of being shy or being hesitant for social interaction."
Using technology: You can help your child interact with her friends through phone calls and video calls. While excessive recourse to social media has its negative aspects, in the current situation, relaxing the rules a little would help keep friendships going and make your child feel connected to her peers. Here are three solutions:
During the Great Depression, children learned to become careful about spending. The pandemic may do the same. Some children may see their parents facing job uncertainty, and feel financially insecure. Because you don't want your child to link financial uncertainty to fear, reassure him, but give a realistic picture. Here are three simple financial lessons you could teach your child at this time:
Aarthi Prabhakaran is a mother to a 12-year-old and an 8-year-old, and a consultant enabling content strategies for start-ups.
"We helped our children pick up three life skills during the lockdown.
Sharing domestic chores: I insisted that the entire family get involved more actively in cleaning the home and doing the laundry and the dishes.
Sustainable and minimalist living: Lockdown gave us the time to review our buying and consumption patterns. Our purchases have been minimal, only essentials. Restaurant orders were almost negligible. The kids learned to reuse (worn-out clothes as cleaning towels) and recycle (segregate plastics). We also experimented more with our home garden to source our own food.
Online etiquette: As many schools have now started online classes for all ages, we had to gear up to learn and teach our children the basics of online etiquette. We had to learn to navigate applications such as Microsoft Team, Google Meet, and Zoom and understand the nuances of using headsets/speakers, how to mute/unmute appropriately, etc."
Archana Mohan, the mother of a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old, and co-founder of a children's content company, Bookosmia (Bengaluru), shares her experience of teaching her children to find joy in doing nothing.
"As parents, we are constantly reminded to keep our children meaningfully engaged during the summer vacation. So, from February, I had my children's vacation all planned out. There was to be a cricket camp, a book club, art and swimming classes. With no classes to attend and nowhere to go, my children learned that it's okay to do nothing.
Mornings meant gardening and fighting over whose hand-painted T-shirt was better. My children were suddenly hooked to the MasterChef tv show and wanted to take part in cooking. Sometimes, the dishes were done by tiny hands. What fun it was to feel the soapy bubbles and running water! Watching birds fly by, doing a goofy dance with cousins on a video call all these moments of doing nothing brought the joy of something. The joy of a repository of precious memories that no fancy skill-building class can ever match."
For now, your little ones are stuck at home. Instead of agonizing over how to keep them occupied, take this opportunity to inculcate important life skills in them.
In a nutshell
ParentCircle is a magazine that empowers parents to raise successful and happy children. SUBSCRIBE NOW