This year moves me to write about what I’m observing in our present Covid aware parenting culture.
As parents look to socialize both for their own health and for their child’s development, choices ae limited. Center based care faces staffing challenges, many do not fulfill strict health requirements such as vaccinated staff, not regulated yet sought by many parents and care is elusive.
Outdoor gatherings in parks are the norm and honestly, seeing these gatherings makes me very hopeful. Coming together face to face is making a comeback!
The fascination on the face of babies and toddlers born as the world shutdown, now seeing peers and socializing, is joyous!
Walking in the public garden I observed two toddlers exploring mulch under a tree. They remained , not straying, from the natural circular boundary. Engaged in parallel play, they did, indeed, watch one another model play which they absorbed to use another day. Parents conversed, stress diminished for a moment as the children remained engaged with their environment.
As we inch away from Covid alarm what after effects will we see?
The continual disinfecting. Will it have a negative affect on our child’s immune system?
Modelling germ phobia could generate a group of children who cannot relax as they interact within public spaces. Are we teaching OCD behaviors?
Facetiming, Zoom meetings, constant screen communication. Is this modelling behavior that translates into toddlers growing up with phones attached to their ears?
Planning each hour of the home day is a coping strategy for the reduced “free time” community activity choices. Are we modifying behavior so a child’s personal use of time is thoroughly managed and time management/decision making is non existent?
Is full time parent companionship creating future separation issues?
All of these potential threats to the desired development of our children can be countered with awareness and planning.
Think of goals as the destination and enjoy the journey.
Screen time. Be aware. Limit screen time in view of your child. Decide on how much time you need. The future does not have to include screen time battles if children respect screen time from the start.
Build free time into a child’s day. Cycle toys in/out of storage to keep the collection fresh. Set up the environment so acceptable choices are accessible. Children deciding on a choice is the beginning of valuable problem solving skills.
Full time parent presence? Examine your Covid “bubble”. Trade parent presence w/others your child is comfortable with for occasional play dates. This will aid transition to future school situations.
Continuous hand washing and sanitizing won’t be going away any time soon. Good hygiene is important yet once again step back and be sure the amount being demanded is necessary.
Singing a song as well as waterplay incorporated into washing makes the chore more fun. Gauge whether your child is mature enough to take responsibility for their hand washing. Give them a picture chart showing when routine hand washing is expected as well as their own pack of wipes and/or a stool for the sink. Empowering them to take this responsibility is satisfying and builds self confidence.
One way or another we will all get through this and come out with lessons learned and resulting innovations. The process is the focus. The process is forgiving. Awareness, planning and strategizing. The ongoing parental challenge!