Parenting During a Pandemic – Key Learnings from Toddle Talks Webinar
Jacqueline Cody & Kate Conway
6 min read

Tips on supporting your child and creating a thriving learning environment

Supporting our children begins with recognizing that which we do have control over and that which we do not. We are then able to channel our energy into the areas where we can have control and that will actually be beneficial for our child. It is also important to understand how our children are experiencing life, so that we can meet them where they are.

In her blog “It is OK to Have French Toast for Dinner”, Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet concluded that “The world is topsy-turvy right now. Let go of expecting perfect parenting, and remember you are doing a good enough job.” In our webinar and this blog, we share some insights from our experience as educators and parents to support parents in creating a thriving learning environment for their children during these unprecedented times.

Understanding ways to support your child

In supporting our children during this time, we need to find a balance of letting go and feeling somewhat in control – to balance having French Toast for dinner with things like keeping a bedtime. In doing so, we can find ways to give our children a sense of control, and eventually a sense of agency, which is where deep engagement and learning happen.

We are not used to being with our children this much, and they are not used to being with us this much – it is new for all of us. Truly connecting with your child, giving them a sense of control, encouraging and establishing sustained play, and giving yourself grace are four key elements in supporting your child emotionally and in their learning. 

What we know about children

In a time of upheaval and change, such as a global pandemic, children’s needs are often heightened. As sensory beings, they will often have a noticeable increase in their need for physical connection, or may even display more physical aggression. It is important to make time to hug, snuggle, and perhaps even extend the bedtime routine, as this physical connection is what helps to ground children and make them feel safe. Encourage multiple sensory outlets, such as running barefoot in the grass, playing with modeling clay, jumping on pillow piles, or making and playing with slime.

Along with this may come regression – wanting to co-sleep again, toileting accidents, behavior regression, and so forth. This is developmentally appropriate during times of stress or duress, and it is OK. Telling yourself and your child that it is ok, being there for them, and gently guiding back to their usual behavior in small increments will support them.

As children feel and process these hard feelings, it is important to normalize them by simply acknowledging them. Remind yourself and your child that it is normal for things to be hard, and our brains will grow because of the stress and challenge of a situation. Hard feelings also provide an opportunity to model and share positive coping strategies, such as going for a walk, taking a bath, snuggling on the couch, and drawing a picture.

Maintaining a sense of routine and structure to some degree is also a way to help our children feel safe and secure. Keeping certain structures and routines like stories before bedtime and ensuring children are getting enough sleep (10+ hours for most ages), are essential. Balancing that with flexibility and letting go of perfection will allow us to let go of unnecessary stress and remain healthy and connected.

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