How do we care for our kids during a crisis?
As the pandemic continues, this means children are staying with parents, grandparents, and other family members during the time they would normally be at school. Parenting in this situation is not easy to say the least. It can be stressful and memorable at the same time. It is both a season to pray away and to cherish. But how do we effectively live in both of those worlds and allow both to be acceptable responses? How do we live in the tension of both? And how do we effectively raise up gospel-centered kids in such a time as this?
As kids ministry leaders, our hope is to come alongside you, the parents and your families, and offer support and encouragement. Here are some parenting tips which may help during this time.
- Prioritize Relationship – if you have more than one child, spend time with each child individually. Set aside the same time each day or week to do this. Your children need one-on-one time with you.
- Set realistic expectations from your child – allow them to have emotions and be free to express those emotions. Remember, they’re learning how to handle their emotions in this upside down world and we shouldn’t expect emotional maturity from them before it’s fully formed.
- Extend grace – to them and to yourself. They’re allowed to be angry, but gently remind them it’s not ok to allow that anger to control their actions.
- Set an example – be mindful to demonstrate how to handle emotions during this time. Our kids are watching and learning how to have a godly response to all of this. We’re not going to do it perfectly. That’s ok! Be authentic and quick to repent. Have a disposition and a posture of grace, patience, and repentance.
- Use positive words – instead of saying “get this mess cleaned up” say “please clean your room up.” When communicating with them, be sure not to shout. Speak in a calm voice. Get their attention by using their name.
- Offer positive reinforcement – affirm them when they do something well. This will help them see that you care and you notice their work.
- Working from home – explain to your children that there will be times when you need to get work done, but that you’d be happy to engage in play and interaction when your work is done. Showing them a healthy and godly work ethic is good at this time.
- Be a SAFE haven for your children – kids are going to misbehave when they are tired, hungry, afraid, or learning independence. This is not easy to deal with when you’re with them all day. Take a deep breath and respond in such a way that would feel safe and reassuring to the child.
- Don’t fear the boredom whines – embrace it. Boredom is good for fostering creativity and independence.
- Stay connected – use technology like MarcoPolo, Zoom etc. to foster relationships and to talk with other parents and kids.
- You are not alone – millions of people are going through this just as you are. Find someone that you can talk with over the phone. What are they personally doing to cope? What routines or activities are they doing with their kids?
- Play games and HAVE FUN with your children.
The virus has temporarily taken away much of our normal routines. Children thrive on routines and rhythms, especially during a time of crisis. Put some rhythms in place they can follow. And allow them to help you make the new rhythms. Remember, choosing to say rhythms is intentional. Rhythms ebb and flow and adjust more easily than hard routines or schedules, but it gives our kids a guideline to align to.
- Build in time for spiritual formation – gospel conversations can be had in the simplest activity. Work it in during their school time, start each day with Jesus, and bring that theme into their studies, play, and discipline.
- Build in time for physical activity – even during this pandemic, kids still need to play and get some exercise which can help burn some energy and stress. A few examples are jumping jacks, burpees, running in place, etc. There are also lots of free exercise routines on the web for kids and their parents (see below for some suggestions).
Create SAFE Home Environments
Your kids need you and the strength you have through Christ at this time more than anything else. Resolve yourselves to create a SAFE home environment for your kids.
- Talk to your children – reassure them that they are safe and ask them for ideas on how they can stay safe. Talk to them about what is happening. Be honest and open. How much you share should be age appropriate.
- Allow your child to talk freely – ask them open-ended questions and find out how much they already know. Answer honestly. After a conversation about the virus, switch to a game, activity or something fun to help them avoid getting stressed out by dwelling on the virus and its effect.
- Be open and listen to your children – your children will look to you for support and reassurance. Listen to your children when they share how they are feeling.
- Give them comfort – your child may be scared or confused. Give them space to share how they are feeling and let them know you are there for them.
- Teach them to wash their hands regularly – Play a game to see who can touch their face the least number of times and reward the winner.
- Set an example – Keep safe distances. Wipe things down with a cleaner. Keep a positive attitude. Resist the urge to complain. If you give off a vibe of worry, anger, uncertainty or fear, your children will follow that line of thinking as well.
* Please note, we acknowledge that not all home environments are “safe” during this time and that there are circumstances out of your control to create this for your children. If you need help, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work to support you and your kids.
We are all finding ourselves in uncharted territory. As we continue to do our part in flattening the curve and continuing to trust and hope in the Lord, we will endure.
Games & Activities
Baby or toddler:
- Sing songs, make music with pots and spoons.
- Stack cups or blocks.
- Tell a story or read a book.
- Read a book.
- Make drawings with crayons or pencils.
- Dance to music or sing songs.
- Do a chore together – make cleaning and cooking a game.
- Cook a favourite meal together.
- Do a craft together.
- Build a blanket fort.
- Play board games together.
- Do a puzzle together.