Parenting Through Covid19 – helpful hints to keep home life happy

The staff of Springboard Family Support Project and Finn Valley FRC CLG have come together to produce the ‘Parenting through COVID19 Booklet’  offering some helpful hints to keep home life happy. The PDF of the booklet can be downloaded here – just click the link below.

FVFRC – Booklet PDF SF

With schools closed and lots of uncertainties for parents, it’s more important than ever to use positive parenting and healthy approaches to parenting in the home. The staff of Finn Valley FRC and Springboard Family Support Project, both as practitioners and parents, have put together some articles looking at:
• Establishing routines in the home
• Problem Solving
• Encouraging Learning in the home
• Managing Behaviour and Consequences
• Communicating with Teenagers
• Self Care for Parents

They have also added some helpful links to access reliable information on COVID19.

Parenting Through COVID 19 by the World Health Organisation:
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advicefor-public/healthy-parenting:

Talking to Children and Young People about COVID 19 from the
Department of Education and Skills:
https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/talking-tochildren-and-young-people-about-covid-19-coronavirus-advice-for-parentsand-schools.pdf

COVID 19 Information and Advice from the HSE: All you need to know
about COVID19 in Ireland:

https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI88-r95O46AIVAuDtCh32SwW5EAAYASAAEgJcrfD_BwE

Parent Hub Donegal http://parenthubdonegal.ie/
Donegal Youth Service http://www.donegalyouthservice.ie
Foroige http://www.foroige.ie
Jigsaw: Daily Practitioner Updates and Online Clinics for Young People
http://www.jigsaw.ie

Support your child’s emotional wellbeing through stories

WELLREAD is an innovative new resource designed to help parents/caregivers support and nurture their child’s development by building up their resilience and help them to learn how to bounce back from the challenges they face today.

As our children are at home over this challenging time the team at WellRead understand that parents will be feeling frustrated and even overwhelmed with what they can do to help their child.  They would like to offer access to WellRead to parents.

WellRead is a chat bot activity designed to help parents boost their children’s emotional wellbeing with a combination of storytelling and targeted conversations. The WellRead website contains a specially chosen collection of short stories for you to read to your child. Each story is accompanied with a series of questions that you can ask to spark conversations with your child about a range of wellbeing topics. The stories and questions you will find in WellRead have been selected by teams of experts, which means you can relax and enjoy some quality time with your child, reassured that you’re also caring for their emotional well-being.  

WellRead features a carefully selected mix of international short stories, fairy tales and novel chapters. The stories will engage your child with their diverse and exciting plotlines, language and characters. There are both contemporary and classic ones, some of which you might remember from your own childhood. Many of the newer stories explore timely issues such as patchwork families, bullying, climate change and poverty. At the same time, in line with our emotional framework, all of the stories look into universal themes such as compassion, truth-telling, courage and hope.

The team at WellRead believe in helping to create a world where every child is empowered to take care of their emotional health and wellbeing and fulfill their potential. It’s free to join, simply create an account at www.mywellread.com  

During this challenging time we know emotional well-being is critical and the WellRead team feel this tool is a life line for parents whilst stuck indoors at the minute.  

Novel Coronavirus/Covid-19 Parenting Questions

Helping young children understand social distancing

QUESTION: During this coronavirus crisis, I am struggling with getting my children to understand the need for social distancing.  We are all stuck at home together and they can’t understand why they can’t go out more, etc. My four-year-old girl says she misses visiting her Nana (who has COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and is in self-isolation) and my six-year-old really misses football with his friends – this was his life.  I want to explain why all the changes are necessary without scaring them.  My six-year-old can be a bit of a worrier and I don’t want to add to this.

ANSWER:  The Novel Coronavirus, Covid19 crisis has come upon us really quickly. With schools off and families in self-isolation, our lives have utterly changed and become much more restrictive.  It is understandable that children are confused and unsure about what is happening.  All they initially might see is losses and new rules that are restricting them.

Getting young children on board
One of the positives in the Covid-19 crisis is how society has galvanised in a collective effort to defeat the virus.  Once people understand how important social distancing is to stop the spread and to protect the vulnerable, they collectively agree to serious restrictions on their personal freedoms.

Unimaginable even ten days ago, society has acquiesced to the closing of pubs and restaurants (indeed there was grassroots pressure for this to happen).  The key was everyone trusted the messaging and leadership – they knew what had to be done.

Young children are no different than adults in this regard.  Once they understand why something needs to done and once you explain the positive reason to help others, you will be surprised at how motivated they might become

Use child-centred language
In talking to young children it is important to take time to explain the message using concrete child-centred language that they understand.

For example, to explain why your four-year-old can’t visit Nana you might say: “There is a virus, called Covid19, that makes old people very sick.  Children can carry Covid19 but not know they have it.  So we can’t visit Nana in case we give her the virus. The good news is that we can talk to her and see her on the phone. She misses you very much and loves when you show her pictures or when you read your books together over the phone at bedtime”.

The key is to show children how they are helping others by their actions. You are showing how your daughter can protect Nana and also be kind to her by keeping in touch.

You can also use pictures or drawings to your children to explain how the virus spreads and importance of washing hands and social distancing.  There are also many children’s picture books just published online to explain all about the virus that you might be able to read together

Use a positive tone
Parents are often worried that difficult facts might scare children.  In reality, it is how things are explained rather than the facts that scare children the most.

Think of the different messages you have received about Covid and how these have made you feel.  In Ireland we have been fortunate to have clear, calm and concise messaging from our experts and leaders in recent days (contrast that with some of the international media outlets and leaders).

Once again children are no different than adults. Vague, inconsistent and confusing answers from anxious parents make for anxious children.  When you are talking to your children, think through what you want to say so you can be calm and clear about what they have to do.

The conversations don’t always have to be serious and a bit of humour and fun can help.  You can have fun learning how to wash hands by having a competition to see who does it the best or you can make a game practicing foot taps as a way of greeting and you can even make a drawing or write a story with your children on the heroic campaign to defeat the evil Covid-19!

Focus on alternatives
While there are many new restrictions and rules in your children’s lives, there are also new opportunities and alternatives.  As already discussed you can use video calls to help your children stay in touch with Nana.  You can also help your son learn to play socially distant football with one or two friends in the park.  You can set up the game whereby each player has to stay two metres apart and pass the ball after two touches – I am sure you and your son can think of lots of creative variations.

There may also be new opportunities within the new rules that you have not had the time and space to take up before.  Perhaps there is now time to complete that jigsaw, take out those board games or even help your children learn to cook, when there was never this time before.
Dr. John Sharry is CEO Parents Plus Charity
Published in The Irish Times newspaper, 20th March 2020. Read original here.