Children in the time of state of emergency parents, or parents in the time of state of emergency children?

Tamara Ćulibrk

The current situation has given us a new level of the life game, especially to us, and our children, as well. These days a post on social networks has emerged: “If schools (kindergartens) are closed for a long time, parents will invent the vaccine before the scientists.” Admit that you have recognized yourselves in this. It is not excluded that children think the same at this point. Time has passed, so even those who go to kindergarten or schools reluctantly wish the opposite. The little ones miss their groups and friends they have fun with a lot. Especially if moms and dads are more nervous than usual. What to do in this situation? We asked Tamara Culibrk, a school pedagogue.

How with children during this situation?
“If you want the truth from a child, don’t lie to them,” A. Nill said. That is why my main recommendation is- sincerely and lovingly. About everything. They are lie detectors. If you don’t have an answer to their question- tell them so. Suggest finding the answer together. Open yourself to the possibility that they will teach you something. Empty your mind from everything you have learned about parenthood and feel your child with your heart and your soul. Only when they are loved will they learn to love. The grownups tend to take children for granted. Even if we have done everything to explain to them, help them, or protect them, they are beings for themselves with the right to their own perception of reality that includes both pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Talk with them about feelings. Teach them to understand what is happening to them.

And what about fear?
Fear is our biggest enemy and blocker, and in this situation, fear overwhelms. From the new and unknown. From illness and loss. A deep existential insecurity that is in the basis of everything we think and do stems from it. Both grownups and children have fears, each in their own way. But the good news is that in the moment when outside almost nothing depends on you, what is inside, does. And on us exclusively. We are the ones who choose- what is what we care for. We choose how to cope with this situation. Think about that. Consciously influence yourself to do this and teach your children that. Explain the situation to your children without embellishing it. Let them know the problems we face, but also let them know what their role in contributing to solving the situation is. Help them become responsible. Bring the rules of conduct together. You can note them down. And stick to them severely. Make no exceptions when you are nervous or tired. You are the example children learn from- about responsibility, respect, tolerance, self-control, honesty, perseverance. And gratitude. So, it is our task, firstly, to take the situation seriously and responsibly, and then help them do the same.

Tamara ĆulibrkWhat (else) can we, parents, do?
We can, and must, sleep enough and rest to strengthen our immune system and protect our health. We can exercise as we have planned. If we used to train, we can continue with the same routine, or change it if it doesn’t appeal to us. If our children go to school, we must organize ourselves around lectures and homework, especially if lower grades are in question, where we get all the material through phones and emails. Having managed our work, school, homework, music school, instrument practice, sport, and other activities, we have a little time left. Show children how to browse the Internet to find interesting content according to their age. A number of platforms have unlocked their channels and offer a myriad of free content, so you can choose whether to go to a museum or theatre. To a library or concert. There are a lot of audio books on YouTube. You can inspire older children to write. Let them write a diary every day. Activity plan and chores. Let them grade how successfully they have finished something. That will teach them to value critically their achievement and develop the skill of better planning. You can suggest them to make notes every day in the following way: at the end of every day, write down what made you most happy, frightened, or angry, and what is it that you learned that day and why is that day important. By doing this, they will have the insight into their fears and mistakes, and thus see how much they progress. In the same time, they will realise that each day there is a moment that makes us happy. And that, in the end, none of them lasts forever, and all the beauty lies in learning life while they rotate. Teach them to make a plan, to set goals to themselves, to think about what they have to do in order to achieve these goals. Play role games or exchange roles for some time. Be children, and let them be parents. You will learn a lot from them, and they will gain meaningful insight into themselves.

What is, according to your opinion, most important these days?
Exclude panic and nervousness. Of course, everything will go slowly in the beginning, until we become accustomed to functioning this way. Until we harmonize schedules, and reorient time for walks to activities at home. On the Internet there are numerous tutorials for children how to make toys, work with plasticine, origami technique, safe experiments that hold their attention for a longer time… You can download free colouring books from the Internet, and many workshops for pre-schoolers and lower grades of primary school. On the Facebook page I manage, “A pedagogue on line” you can find links to various content you can direct your children to: link. As much as this seems a long time for spending at home, when everything passes, we will realize that much more time lies ahead. This is a great chance for us to get bored with telephones and computers, so that, when we return to regular state and go for a coffee with friends, we leave them in our bag, and look the person opposite us in the eyes all the time.”

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