Helping your child through change

Kids 09 October 2020

Thando Naves (Modern Zulu Mom) says laughter and quality time are important for children, particularly in these changing times.

By Thando Naves, Modern Zulu Mom

This year is one that we will always remember, the constant changes and unknowns are still with us in many respects and our children have not been exempted from these. As parents, there was no time for us to quickly gather ourselves beforehand - our children have lived through every moment of the pandemic with us.

As we see our COVID-19 cases decrease and life slowly morphs back to “normal”, there are still many uncertainties. For instance, my oldest son who Grade 6, has not been able to go back to a five-day school week due to the school’s rotational policy. He attends twice a week or three times a week, depending on his roster.

Some changes may appear to be small, but it is a scary time for some children. They have doubts and real fears, just like we do. In this post, I’ll touch on three strategies which may be helpful when trying to help your child to cope with the changes and build resilience.

Constant communication

Resilience is a tool which helps us cope through adversity and stressful situations. It helps us bounce back from challenges as we go through life. Within families, it can also strengthen bonds as we learn, fail and grow together.

To build resilience, it is important to communicate regularly and honestly. Tell your children what is going on around the world and your feelings in an age appropriate way. Keep them posted with any changes and encourage them to ask you lots of questions.

During a discussion with my son, he admitted that he found the “homeschooling” days quite stressful as he didn’t have the full guidance from his teachers and the interaction with friends. I then took the opportunity to share my experience of working from home with him, touching on how I’ve also battled to keep up with the load while missing my colleagues.

Being open about my own experiences opened up the floor for him to ask more questions and in-turn feel less alone about his feelings. When we show our vulnerable, human-side to our children, we allow them to see that challenges can be overcome.

Help them recognise their achievements and failures

Teaching our children that mistakes are normal and empowering is also very important. Life is not made of perfect scenarios, so teaching them that changes and mistakes give us opportunities to learn prepares them for those moments when things will go wrong.

Here are a few things you can ask them or they can write down:

  1. What/who inspires me?
  2. What have I overcome?
  3. What did I learn about myself during the Covid-19 pandemic?
  4. What makes me proud of myself?
  5. What are the positive changes that have come from the national lockdown?

You will be surprised at what they will tell you or write down.

Something to reflect on

 Our reactions affect how confident our children will feel about making mistakes. If we create a safe space and productive space for them, they will start to see failures as learning opportunities. Therefore, it’s important to encourage them to laugh more.

Laughter is a lifelong gift for children - research has shown that laughter plays an important role in developing self-esteem, learning to problem-solve and honing social skills. It also helps children make sense of their world, develop empathy with others, reduce stress and pain, and thereby building resilience and a happy, healthy child.

I always encourage quality, engaged family time - get to know one another and do something fun together. We have our weekend movie night rituals that the children always look forward to - we pull their mattresses into the lounge and I make popcorn.

We also love enjoying DStv’s School of Laughter together. It’s a place where parents can access the best content to spark your kids’ laughter – and development. While we juggle our many hats of working, parenting and homeschooling, we can have those worthwhile breaks.

The kids are currently counting down to the upcoming Ben 10 vs The Universe: The Movie, which premieres on Saturday 10 October at 10:10 on Cartoon Network (DStv 301). We've got everything we need to enjoy the movie in style with awesome downloadables that you can get too. Visit the link below to surprise your child with some awesome gear that will have them feeling like little superheroes!

Childhood is a precious time and I look back at mine and mostly remember the great memories. It’s normal to question one’s parenting skills, but keep reminding yourself that you are doing your very best. We will look back on 2020 and be proud of ourselves and our children for thriving through change and uncertainty.

Disclaimer: This post was done in collaboration with DStv. As usual, all opinions and content are my own. 

Modern Zulu Mom

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