What Your Nanny Kids Need In The Time Of COVID-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nannying and parenting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed so many caregivers into uncharted waters. Staying home day in and day out, managing homeschooling, redesigning daily routines, and managing the stress and worries that our young ones are experiencing — it’s definitely a lot to navigate.

 

We always like to check in with the experts in times like this, and in this case we found some excellent information from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here are some tips from the AAP to help you and your nanny family through the pandemic. ​

 

 

 

 

Address Children’s Fears

Children rely on their nannies and parents for safety, both physical and emotional. Reassure your children that you are there for them and that your family will get through this together.

  • Answer questions about the pandemic simply & honestly. Talk with children about any frightening news they hear. It is OK to say people are getting sick, but say following rules like hand washing and staying home will help your family stay healthy.
  • Recognize your child’s feelings. Calmly say, for example, “I can see that you are upset because you can’t have your friends over.” Guiding questions can help older children and teens work through issues. (“I know it is disappointing not to be able to hang with your friends right now. How do you think you can stay in touch with them?”)
  • Keep in touch with loved ones. Children may also worry about a grandparent who is living alone or a relative or friend with an increased risk of getting COVID-19. Video chats can help ease their anxiety.
  • Model how to manage feelings. Talk through how you are managing your own feelings. (“I am worried about Grandma since I can’t go visit her. The best I can do is to check in with her more often by phone. I will put a reminder on my phone to call her in the morning and the afternoon until this outbreak ends.”)
  • Tell your child before you leave the house for work or essential errands. In a calm and reassuring voice, tell them where you are going, how long you will be gone, when you will return, and that you are taking steps to stay safe.
  • Look forward. Tell them that scientists are working hard to figure out how to help people who get ill, and that things will get better.
  • Offer extra hugs and say “I love you” more often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Establish Healthy Routines

During the pandemic, it is more important than ever to maintain bedtime and other routines. They create a sense of order to the day that offers reassurance in a very uncertain time. All children, including teens, benefit from routines that are predictable yet flexible enough to meet individual needs.

  • Structure the day. With the usual routines thrown off, establish new daily schedules. Break up schoolwork when possible. Older children and teens can help with schedules, but they should follow a general order, such as:
    • wake-up routines, getting dressed, breakfast and some active play in the morning, followed by quiet play and snack to transition into schoolwork.
    • lunch, chores, exercise, some online social time with friends, and then homework in the afternoon.
    • family time & reading before bed.

 

​A word about bedtimes​ . . .

Children often have more trouble with bedtime during any stressful period. Try to keep normal nighttime routines such as Book, Brush, Bed for younger children. Put a family picture by their bed for “ex​​tra love” until morning. Bedtimes can shift some for older children and teens, but it is a good idea to keep it in a reasonable range so the sleep-wake cycle isn’t thrown off. Too little sleep makes it more challenging to learn and to deal with emotions. Remember to turn off cell phones and other mobile devices an hour before bedtime.​

 

 

 

 

Use Positive Discipline

Everyone is more anxious and worried during the pandemic. Younger children may not have the words to describe their feelings. They’re more likely to act out their stress, anxiety, or fear through their behavior (which can, in turn, upset parents, particularly if they are already stressed). Older children and teens may be extra irritable as they miss out on time with friends and special events being canceled.

Some ways you can help your children manage their emotions and behavior:

  • Redirect bad behavior. Sometimes children misbehave because they are bored or don’t know any better. Find something else for them to do.
  • Creative play. Suggest your children draw pictures of ways your family is staying safe. Make a collage and hang it up to remind everyone. Or, build an indoor fort or castle to keep the germs at bay, bringing in favorite stuffed animals or toys.
  • Direct your attention. Attention–to reinforce good behaviors and discourage others–is a powerful tool. Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. Explaining clear expectations, particularly with older children, can help with this.
  • Use rewards & privileges to reinforce good behaviors (completing school assignments, chores, getting along with siblings, etc.) that wouldn’t normally be given during less stressful times.
  • Know when not to respond. As long as your child isn’t doing something dangerous and gets attention for good behavior, ignoring bad behavior can be an effective way of stopping it.
  • Use time-outs. This discipline tool works best by warning children they will get a time-out if they don’t stop. Remind them what they did wrong in as few words―and with as little emotion―as possible. Then, remove them from the situation for a pre-set length of time (1 minute per year of age is a good guide).

 

​Special Time In

Even with everyone home together 24/7, set aside some special time with each child. You choo​se the time, and let your child choose the activity. Just 10 or 20 minutes of your undivided attention, even if only once every few days, will mean a lot to your child. Keep cell phones off or on silent so you don’t get distracted.​

 

 

 

 

  • Avoid physical punishment. Spanking, hitting, and other forms of physical or “corporal” punishment risks injury and isn’t effective. Physical punishment can increase aggression in children over time, fails to teach them to behave or practice self-control, and can even interfere with normal brain development. Corporal punishment may take away a child’s sense of safety and security at home, which are especially needed now.

 

 

The AAP reminds parents and caregivers never to shake or jerk a child, which could cause permanent injuries and disabilities and even result in death. Tips for calming a​ fussy baby and advice for caregivers who have reached a breaking point can be found here. If you have a friend, relative, or neighbor with the new baby at home, think of ways you can reach out to provide support during the isolation period.​

 

 

  • Take care of yourself. Caregivers also should be sure to take care of themselves physically: eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. Find ways to decompress and take breaks. If more than one parent is home, take turns watching the children if possible.
  • Remember to take a breath. In addition to reaching out to others for help, the AAP recommends parents feeling overwhelmed or especially stressed try to take just a few seconds to ask themselves:
    • Does the problem represent an immediate danger?
    • How will I feel about this problem tomorrow?
    • Is this situation permanent?

 

In many cases, the answers will deflate the panic and the impulse to respond inappropriately to the children.​ Keep in mind that this situation is impermanent and as difficult as it is, we will get through this together, and you are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

h/t American Academy of Pediatrics

 


 

What are some of the ways that you are navigating this pandemic as a care provider and/or parent? We’d love to hear about your personal experiences or best practices!

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