7 Things You can do to Help your Child Cope During the Pandemic

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You’ve already ran through all the checklists in your head to manage the pandemic. Sanitizers, Dettol detergents, and face masks (with shields!) have been stocked and prepared. The house is in its best state. No stray bacteria is likely to enter the house uninvited. 

You are ready to sigh in relief and head into your home office, but…your child is whining about not wanting to do homework. Again. It’s frustrating, and happens to most families trying to battle the pandemic. The problem is that children aren’t meant to live in pandemics and lockdowns, and parents are also experiencing it for the first time. 

Are you looking for tips to help your child cope better during the pandemic? Does your child get cranky and upset easily in the lockdown without reason? This article tells you practical tips on how to assist your child to flourish during this time. These tips can be implemented easily and quickly for your family. You will not waste valuable time and money on splurging for yet another new toy. 

1. Communicate with your child

Children need to feel safe in order to behave like children. This happens when parents or caregivers are able to listen, understand, and respond to their thoughts and feelings. This can be done using simple steps:

  • Remove all distractions (electronic devices, television, loud music)
  • Maintain good eye contact 
  • Set aside special time to talk
  • Ask about everyday things (“What was special today?”, “How did you feel about…?”)
  • Be simple and precise 
  • Use a calm tone 

More resources: Unicef’s free e-book on “Communicating with Children: Principles and Practices to Nurture, Inspire, Excite, Educate and Heal” provides instructions on strength-based approaches in communication. 

2. Tell your child about the Coronavirus

The pandemic is a complex topic to explain to any child. Children have been exposed to stressors such as school closures, distant learning, and lockdowns. It is important to help them understand the pandemic in order to better cope with stress from precautions in place. 

First, ask what your child knows about the pandemic. Correct their misconceptions if there are any. Then, explain the pandemic in a story format using visual cues to help understanding. You can look at this drafted story or use Unicef’s story here. Lastly, ask if your child still has any questions. You can turn it into a fun investigative game of “looking for clues” to learn together. 

3. Blueprinsm’s occupational therapist and special educator’s tip: Provide structure and routine

It is more important than ever to implement a routine that makes sense to a child during the pandemic. Their lives have been thrown off course and the simplest way for them to feel safe is by having a healthy routine. New daily schedules should include clear wake-up and bedtimes, with both fun and learning activities accounted for. 

Use colorful, bright calendars with pictures to help your child understand their schedule. It should be worked out together with your child, with a clear agreement on activities that are included. Turn it into a project by letting your child decorate the schedule with creative art and craft pieces. 

Include these into your child’s schedule:

  • Sleep and wake times
    Once fixed, these timings should not be changed easily. This is to habituate your child to the schedule without encouraging tantrums or negotiations. 
  • House chores
    Based on your child’s age, you can set simple house chores for your child to learn responsibility and accountability. Refer to WebMD’s list of appropriate house chores for children. 
  • Fun activities
    This is the highlight of childhood! Your child should be enjoying adequate and frequent time on play activities. Although electronic devices are convenient and provide more options for games, children should always be encouraged to play with hands-on activities or toys to stimulate well-rounded growth. 
  • Family time
    Other than meal times, family time can be scheduled for boardgames, movies, or doing projects together. This helps the family to bond and enjoy each other’s company without the pressure to perform.
  • Talk time 
    As mentioned in the earlier points, communication is crucial for your child. Follow the tips mentioned to have effective and clear communication with your children. 

4. Blueprinsm’s clinical psychologist’s tip: Give emotional support 

Acknowledge the fears and worries that your child may have. They may be behaving abnormally, like being more clingy or having more tantrums than usual. Although it can be really frustrating, stay calm. Model how to be calm by going to your child and saying, “I can see that you are being clingy and it tells me that you are worried.”, or “I can see that you are upset because you cannot go out to play with friends.”. Talking about thoughts and feelings can help children feel more reassured. 

If you are busy, you can always find another time to spend with your child. “Emma, mummy is busy now but we will have our special talk time later after dinner.” Help your child find pleasant activities to distract them from their worries in the meantime. 

5. Get enough rest

As parents and caregivers, your child will be best taken care of when you are taking care of yourself. Have adequate rest, stay hydrated, and make sure that your needs are managed too. Sesame Street recommends writing a journal, taking a break, or journaling for your “me time”. 

6. Transport yourself and your child to a different place 

  • Virtual Field Trips
    Can’t travel? Have no fear! Virtual trips are here. There are many options for virtual tours online including exploring the planet Mars and the US Yellowstone Park. You can access the links here

7. Blueprinsm’s clinical psychologist’s tip: Make use of psychological exercises

  1. Belly Breathing
    This is a cool and short exercise to engage with your child when you see them getting upset or worried. It is as simple as lying down, focusing on your belly, and breathing! Specific instructions can be found here
  2. Feelings Chart
    Children learn best when alternative learning aides are provided. You can print out feelings charts for them to pay attention to how they are feeling. 

Blueprinsm uses an interdisciplinary approach. We have a a team of psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, special educators, and behavior analysts to assist you and your child for wellbeing and growth. For more assistance, leave a message or contact us. 

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YBhg. Puan Hajah Salmah binti Jopri

Pengarah
Bahagian Pendidikan Khas (BPKhas)
Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia
Director
Special Education Department
Ministry of Education Malaysia

YBhg. Puan Hajah Salmah binti Jopri is the director of the Special Education Department in the Ministry of Education, Malaysia.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Azizah Othman

Clinical Psychologist
Department of Pediatrics
Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia

Dr Azizah Othman is an Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology at the University of Science, Malaysia (Universiti Sains Malaysia, USM). She obtained her Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Psychology) at the University of South Australia in 2008. Her field of specialization is in clinical psychology and child clinical psychology.

Dr Azizah actively publishes her research works in reputable journals internationally. Her current research area includes psychological problems in health setting, children, chronic illness, disabilities and coping. In the last five years she received several grants from

University of Science, Malaysia
Developing and Piloting an Educational Program Module for Pre-School; Teachers in Identifying Features Associated with Learning Difficulty in Children
Imagery-Induced Relaxation in Children with Cancer.

MAKNA Cancer Young Investigator Research Award
Randomized controlled trial on the effects of guided imagery relaxation audio on children with cancer.

Ministry of Education, as co-investigators
Targeted genetic modifiers contributing to phenotypic heterogeneity of Hb E/β;
The psychological impact and health economic burden to the country;
Pembangunan Model Holistik Program Pendidikan Inklusif Terbaik Murid Berkeperluan Khas.

Dr Rajini Sarvananthan

Consultant Developmental and General Pediatrician
ParkCity Medical Centre

Dr Rajini Sarvananthan is a Consultant Developmental and General Paediatrician at Park City Medical Centre, Baby and Beyond Child Specialist Clinic and a Visiting Consultant at University Malaya Medical Centre.
Dr Rajini graduated from the University of Newcaslte upon Tyne, United Kingdom in 1993 and entered Paediatric training in 1994. She further sub-specialised in the area of Neurodisability / Developmental Paediatrics in the UK,while completing her Masters in Medical Science in Child Health. She served briefly as a Locum Consultant Paediatrician before returning to Malaysia in 2003. She served as Senior Lecturer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and together with a team of health professionals, she was involved in setting up the Child Development Centre at UKM Medical Centre, the first such centre in Malaysia at the time. In 2009, she decided to venture into Private Practice to be able to do more clinical work while still maintaining links with academic institutions. She was also involved in the setting up of the Child Development Centre in ParkCity Medical Centre where she practices till today.
Aside from clinical work, she continues to be involved in the training of Developmental Paediatricians. She has been a committee member of the Positive Parenting Management Committee since 2014(Educational Programme for Parents on Maternal, Child & Family Care, initiated by the Malaysian Paediatric Association). She is also a committee member of the Chapter of Child Neurology and Developmental Paediatrics, Malaysian Society of Neurosciences and part of the organising committee for the Asian-Oceania Child Neurology Biannual Congress held in 2019 in Kuala Lumpur. She continues to speak at national and international meetings.
Her most important job to date is being a daughter, wife and mother to three beautiful daughters who have taught her and continue to teach her the beautiful journey of parenting.

Evelyn Ngui

Clinical Psychologist | MPsych (Clinical)
BSc (Psychology & Communications)

Evelyn is a clinical psychologist with a passion for bringing hope to children, adolescents, and adults with various needs. She specializes in the psychological assessments and intervention for clients experiencing neurodevelopmental, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. On top of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, she is an avid believer in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and has conducted an online delivery of mindfulness program to improve psychological wellbeing for medical doctors.

She has worked both in rural and city settings, such as Kubang Kerian (Kelantan) and the CBD of Singapore. This has taught her the need to balance psychological skills with a heart for empathy in the helping profession. An active advocator for serving in the lives of those she is in contact with, Evelyn writes articles related to psychology on www.bridgingpsych.com and is an invited speaker on talks conducted by healthcare centers or universities.

Faith Ng

Principal Director | Co-Founder
SPA (AU), MASH (MY), IALP (MT)
Consultant Speech-Language Pathologist
Consultant Trainer (CN, UK)

Faith is a clinical consultant and certified Speech-Language Pathologist (multilingual) in Australia, Malaysia, China and other APAC countries. She specializes in child & adolescent speech, language, communication and feeding development. She is actively involved in Education, Healthcare and Social Care, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise in diagnostic assessment & therapy, telespeech consultation, parent coaching and teacher training. Passionate in leadership and advocacy, she serves as a board and committee member in the Malaysian Association of Speech-Language & Hearing (MASH) and Special Education Network & Inclusion Association (SENIA)—Beijing. As an entrepreneur and co-founder, she leads business strategy, evidence-based practice and family-centered care at Blueprinsm. With the heart and mission to serve “every family, every child”, she envisions to enable nationwide access to quality Speech-Language Pathology care.