April 1, 2020

Helping Children through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Spring break is over in BC. Your children were supposed to be back at school by now; instead, they’re at home with you, and you are scrambling to figure out how long this will last and what you can do in the interim. Parenting as a single parent was challenging before the coronavirus outbreak. Now, the pandemic has made it even more difficult. 

You are feeling stressed. Your children are also feeling anxious. One of the most difficult aspects of the COVID-10 pandemic is the sense of uncertainty. How long will these “physical distancing” measures be in place? When can we “go back to normal”?

Unfortunately, there are no clear answers to these questions. One thing that must be acknowledged sooner, rather than later is that these current “physical distancing” measures will be in place for at least a while longer. We must recognize that children can get upset and anxious when their routines are disrupted. Children need structure and routine in order to feel a sense of stability and predictability in their lives. 

This “Covid-19 Schedule” posted by Jessica McHale, a mother and photographer, on her Instagram account has been shared more than 52,000 times! In it, McHale, provides a sample schedule she has implemented with her children, which includes time outdoors, for meals, for academic work, for chores, for creative activities, for “quiet” activities, and for screen time. You may also include a weekly time to make phone calls or video calls to grandparents or friends they’re not able to see at this time. 

Regardless of the categories, the duration, or the activities you create in your schedule, the idea is to create a structure, and a daily or weekly rhythm for your children and your family. It’s important for children to have activities that require discipline (e.g. chores and academic work), as well as activities and things that feel like a “reward” (e.g. screen time or getting dessert after dinner).  The idea is to provide positive reinforcement and motivation to stick to the structure you have created. 

It will inevitably feel difficult at first. And it may take some time to figure out a schedule and routine that will work for you and your children. But remain patient, and trust that commitment to a schedule that involves both work and reward will eventually pay off. We are living in challenging times, but it is possible for you and your children to thrive even amidst all of this. We wish you and your family the best.


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