What can parents of children aged 0-5 do to support their wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic? In our first episode of Parenting in the age of coronavirus podcast, Internationally-recognised child health researchers and paediatricians from Murdoch Children's Research Institute provide useful tips on wellbeing to help your child thrive. Listen to episode 1:
It’s essential to acknowledge that the pressure right now is enormous, but we’re all only human. It’s vital to be kind to yourself and take the pressure off wherever you can.
Thankfully, when it comes to helping your young kids to be happy and to thrive, it’s the simple stuff that can have the most impact.
Spend time together – the relationship you have with your kids is at the heart of how their brains develop. It’s as simple as chatting with them while you’re doing chores, going for a walk, or making some food, it all helps your little person to stay healthy and grow up strong.
Remember resilience – sudden and dramatic changes to routine can be quite upsetting for kids, but most will adapt quickly. Take this time to make a new routine. Instead of grandparent care, there could be a regular video story time. Instead of play dates, there could be a regular family walk around the neighbourhood.
When they feel worried, your child looks to you to be their anchor and offer them reassurance. Building a new routine for them is a big part of being that anchor.
There’s no value in comparison – it’s easy to let social media make us feel like other parents are doing this better than we are. Consider taking some time out from social media, or unfollowing accounts that make you feel down about yourself. On the other hand, if you’re looking for ideas of new things to try, there’s some really creative parent tips online. Try raisingchildren.net.au for starters.
Tap into your network – our friends and family outside our homes are more important than ever. Make time for regular catch ups and try to take time out.
Curate the content – we’re all having lots of conversations about our fears and worries right now, there’s constant COVID-19 news online, on the radio and on TV. Particularly for toddlers and pre-schoolers, be mindful of what they’re overhearing. They can understand the words, but they can’t make sense of it all and it can be very frightening.
Tailor the talk – older kids will have questions. Why can’t I see grandma? Why can’t I have a birthday party? It’s important that you are honest, but age appropriate when you talk about the COVID-19 situation. It might be useful to use the analogy of a cold and how when we have a cold we don’t want to spread the germs. That’s why we wash our hands carefully and sneeze into our elbows.
Trust your instincts – you are the expert of your own child. This is a time to write your own rulebook for managing COVID-19 based on what works for you, your kids and your family.
Some children and parents will experience a level of anxiety and sadness about COVID-19 that needs extra help. Your GP will now be offering telehealth appointments and that’s the best place to go firsts. Your maternal and child health nurse is also available.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and seek the support you need.