Tips for Parents at Home with Kids during the Pandemic

Editor’s note:

Many families are suddenly faced with how to keep kids occupied at home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and that dilemma continues as schools decide whether children will be going to school on-line, in person or both. Here, tips on how to make the at-home time more beneficial for children and parents.

“For families with younger children, having different theme days, such as Super Hero or Home Beach day, with foods, clothing and activities tied to the theme can be fun. This can include making super hero capes or ‘sandcastles’ out of household objects,” says Jennifer Lansford, a professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy whose research focuses on parenting and child development.

*“Families with older children can try capitalizing on children’s interests to help them learn more. For example, an interest in photography can be enhanced by helping the child access online information about photo-editing, and by giving them as much freedom as possible within the confines of the home (e.g., letting children rearrange their room).”

*“Board or card games, puzzles and reading — libraries have lots of online resources — can be engaging at any age. Take turns choosing activities that the whole family will do together that don’t involve electronics.”


*”This can be an opportunity for family members to share their skills and knowledge with each other,” says Lansford, also a faculty fellow with Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy. “For example, one family member could teach another how to juggle or how to bake a cake.”

*In addition to connecting as a family, it is also fine to let children have their own space to be imaginative in ways that aren’t always possible in today’s usually highly-structured world with many organized activities.”

*“When children (and adults) are going through hard times, one thing that can help them feel better is learning to be grateful for what they have rather than ruminating about what they don’t have. Children can be encouraged to focus on the positive by writing about things they are grateful for and doing something kind for each other family member at least once a day. Parents should do those things, too.”

“Of course, all these great ideas can seem like a mountain to climb for a parent who is stressed, overworked or just generally exhausted. Another helpful tip is for parents to understand that whatever they can do is enough. Keeping their kids safe is the top priority.”


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