The global pandemic “COVID-19” has unfortunately affected everyone around the globe. People of every age are facing their own set of struggles. Lifestyles have changed with long restrictions, and parents of toddlers are finding it strenuous to keep their little ones occupied with healthy activities that aids in their development. The social, physical, and cognitive growth of children is compromised because of limited outdoor activities.
Young children are especially the most difficult to handle during this time of crisis as they have so much energy and limited exposures make them frustrated and bored. This age is a crucial time in their development as they learn and develop new social, physical and cognitive skills by going out and experiencing the world, meeting new people and solving their own problems.
Covid-19; Challenges in the child development
The current epidemic may cause a hindrance in the development of children delaying the milestones of:
- Gross motor abilities involve the movement of big muscles (Climbing, jumping, running, learning to balance their body and other activities which they develop by playing outdoor games.)
- Language development includes learning to express themselves with proper sentences, correct use of grammar, learning new words and increasing their vocabulary.
- Fine motor abilities, where children are learning to hold pencils, draw & write, holding and cutting through scissors, coloring within lines, and learning to write.
- Cognitive skills developed by exploring, thinking, and experiencing new things and asking “why?” often. Learning new words, counting, rhymes, developing problem solving skills and observing and imitating are also cognitive abilities.
- Social skills incorporates learning teamwork, taking turns, making friends, sharing toys, communicate and understand emotions and feelings of oneself and others.
Covid-19; How Can You Help in Child Development
- Answer your child’s queries
The drastic change in life routine, working from home, no birthday parties or gatherings, wearing masks, maintaining distance from others and no outings in amusement parks may make a child distressed. It surely is difficult for a child to comprehend what is happening, wondering why they cannot meet their friends? Why are schools closed? And why lives are limited to certain things? Your child may ask you such questions. Instead of making excuses, changing topics and diverting attention it is important to address the issue but it should be delivered in such a way that it does not create any panic or fear. This can be done by telling them about the virus, but also mentioning this is only for a short time. Keeping things positive and communicated in a way that they understand will benefit them.
- Keep your child active
Keeping children active will not only keep them busy but also it will help them in developing their gross motor skills. To help your child develop their gross motor skills during the pandemic, it is necessary to involve them in such activities and games in which they make use of their muscles inside the home. You can introduce new games to them like hopscotch, playing with balloons, the floor lava and many other creative games. If possible, install a trampoline in your backyard. Dancing with them is yet another fun game which they will enjoy a lot and it will help them in mastering their balance.
- Help them in language development
Due to restricted meetups, closed schools and no going out, children are missing out on meeting new people, learning new words and improving their vocabulary. Sometimes our televisions and phones divert us away from an engaging conversation with others and this can be especially unproductive in the development of our children’s social and conversational skills. By having engaging conversations with our children, this will help them when the world is back to normal and they are speaking to other children.
Making use of word games is an interesting way of elaborating their knowledge of words. Story telling will help them in making use of new words in sentences, and learning grammar.
Also introducing appropriate jokes will not only help in language development, but it will also create a creative and humorous space in their mind. Singing rhymes, playing the “name game” by showing them different pictures on your phone, story-telling using toys and making them talk to others via phones or video calls will help them in their speech development.
- Engage them in fine motor skills
Children love experiencing new things and especially if it is a little messy. Use a blank sheet of paper and let them draw different shapes. This will help them learn how to hold pencils. Color with them and help them learn to color within the lines. Use paper scissors and teach them how to cut, plus you can also teach them to paste pictures with glue (use glittery glue for added spark).
If you would prefer not to make too much of a mess, there are alternative options which still enable them to learn how to hold a pen and improve their creative skillset. You can find some great ideas here
- Make your child is socially connected to others
For children, having a social life is as important as for any other age group. Experiencing and observing conversations, acts, behaviors and emotions of others on different occasions helps them in understanding and how to respond to different situations, developing their cognitive skills and improving their speech command. Children also learn to imitate others, make new friends and learn to interact with others. You can help them in maintaining a social life by making their interactions via video calls to your friends, children of your friends and family.
- Involve them in house chores
Children are already feeling bored and frustrated due to lack of activities and isolation. They need someone to hear them, play with them and to share their joys and sorrows with them. It is an important time to build a healthy parent-child relationship. The best way can be to let them help you in daily house chores. You can ask them to put plates in the sink, to put all the toys in the basket, collecting socks and others stuff from the floor and keep them where they belong or to throw dirty clothes in the laundry basket. These simple house chores will keep them occupied and develop their sense of cleanliness, discipline and responsibility. I have found with my son that he loves to do the vacuuming with me, so I give him the end of the vacuum, so he thinks he is helping me. Although it means it will take me longer to get the vacuuming done, it keeps him entertained and engaged.