The outside got scary. And suddenly, the world moved inside.
There are a multitude of emotions we experience when something like this happens; anxiety, boredom, frustration, and for some, even a sense of comfort as they hunker down at home. As adults, we have developed a cadre of tools to deal with these emotions (some of them healthier than others). Children have not yet developed these tools. Those emotions are close to the surface and with prolonged periods of shifted schedules, confined quarters, and stressed-out adults, those emotions are bound to burst out.
No matter how crazy times get; children need what children need. And, if we as the adults in their lives meet those needs, we will see fewer emotional outbursts (which sure is good for our own mental well-being). I am sure you are seeing many articles about safe-guarding children’s social-emotional needs, so I want to focus on a couple of other aspects of development.
First, let’s remember that children need to move; even during a pandemic. So many challenging behaviors are the result of adults not providing opportunities for children to use those gross muscles that are developing so rapidly. Of course, outside is great for this, but at times, that is not possible. No worries, you can create lots of ways to move inside the house;
- Crumple paper or roll up socks and throw these into laundry baskets. After, the game children can help you match the socks and check that off your to-do list (or, give up all together on matching socks – see previous blog post The Liberation of Mismatch Socks).
- Use masking tape to mark jumping or skipping paths in the house. If possible, mark paths between different parts of the house with various colors of tape. The different colors indicate different ways to move.
- If you are like me, you get lots of junk mail; especially catalogues. Save those up and give them children to tear up. Not only will they be using their arm muscles, there is a visceral pleasure in hearing that sound and ripping the paper to pieces.
- Encourage your child(ren) to grab the edges of a sheet (or towel for younger children). Crumple up some paper and throw it on the sheet. Move the sheet and try to get the paper balls to hit the ceiling.
Providing for children’s movement doesn’t take extra money, just a little creativity and finding different uses for household items.
If you are one of those people who suddenly find yourself pressed into the role of teacher as well as parent; as long as you aren’t abusing or neglecting your children, you are doing a good job. Cut yourself some slack. Your children won’t remember that they had peanut butter and jelly for dinner three days in a row, that the laundry was piled up, or that there was a nationwide run on toilet paper. They will remember the moments you create for them; the wild dance parties, eating those sandwiches in a fort made from a sheet and a table, and that you made them feel safe. Who knows, you might get a “World’s Best Teacher” mug on your next birthday.
In my next post, I will talk about the importance of contact with nature for our well-being and how to meet that need when the outside world might not be available.
What do you think? Engage with me and others in the ECE community on my social media outlets. You can also find more information about my book and available training sessions, on any of the following:
Facebook: Teacher as Gardener
LinkedIn: Michelle Salcedo
My book Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior can be purchased at Free Spirit Publishing or Amazon
Interested in hearing more? Consider bringing me in as a speaker for your next Professional Development event (you won’t regret it).