I think it’s fair to say that we’re living through unprecedented circumstances that are disruptive, unprecedented, and downright scary. But there may be a silver lining; with the current “social distancing” and “stay-at-home” orders, we have an unplanned opportunity to spend more time with our children. Stretches of unscheduled time to spend with your children is truly a gift. Why not make the most of this time by teaching them important skills and lessons about life? Your influence in your children’s lives has just been heightened and believe it or not, when you speak, they listen. Don’t miss this opportunity. Take advantage to teach and lead.
Lesson 1: How To Make The Most of Resources
The other day, my wife and I were joking about the toilet paper shortage that has swept the U.S.. She recounted a learning-experience story that she still remembers her father teaching her when she was only three or four years old. As a newly potty-trained child, my wife frequently used too much toilet paper. She ended up clogging the toilet more than a few times. So, her dad took this as an opportunity, not to scold her, but to help her learn to count the paper squares to gauge how much she was using, therefore avoiding waste. In that moment, my wife learned to count to four, judge how much paper to use to avoid clogging up toilets, and the power of thrift! To this day, she still remembers that lesson from her dad with fondness. You see my point, the current covid-19 pandemic gives you the opportunity to teach your children, today, an appreciation of the resources they have and the valuable lesson of not wasting them. Whether it’s toilet paper, hand wipes, food, soap, water, hand sanitizer, or even their free time, your children need to learn not waste them, and you can be their teacher.
Lesson 2: Respect and Care for Others
We’re hearing all the time about ways to stop the spread of the covid-19; hand washing, cough covering, social distancing, and self-isolation when you’re sick. Now is the perfect time to point out to your children that all of these hygiene measures are intended to help keep everyone safe, including their family, their neighbors, and friends. What a great life lesson, the importance of looking out for the needs of others! And what could be a better and more relevant way to learn this lesson than during a global pandemic? Infection control offers your children perfect example of how little things that they do or don’t do can’t affect many other people. While learning about germs, exponential growth, and incubation times, your children can learn that respecting and caring for others is important and that their behavior can make a big difference toward that end. Powerful stuff.
Lesson 3: Learning New Skills
With all this new time you have to spend with your kids, why not teach them how to step up and take a greater role with keeping the household running by giving them new skills that might be helpful. Pull your kids into some of the family’s daily activities that they might not have done previously. Kids love to be involved in the tasks that their parents are doing, and this is an opportunity for them to learn essential life skills before they leave the nest. This means taking the time to teach them how to take on more responsibilities around the house like helping to cook, doing yard work and gardening, repairing broken items around the house, sewing and mending clothes, paying bills, or organizing garages and closets. It all needs to get done and now, if all goes well with your teaching, you just might get some help from them in the future. And while you are at it, take some time to ask your kids what skills they would like you teach them. You may be surprised at what they might want to learn. And if nothing else, their ideas can be a great source of entertainment.
Lesson 4: How to Live with Gratitude
The current pandemic means, for your children, everything is suddenly different. Mom and dad are home almost always, there is no classroom time, teachers and schoolmates are absent from their lives, there are no play dates, sports, recess, and no dinners out at restaurants. It is disorienting and confusing for everyone, especially your children. But all this change gives us a chance to stop and notice the many people that we absolutely depend on for our lives to continue, don’t get much gratitude or recognition. I’m referring to the people who tend to our daily needs. You know who I am talking about- people, despite all the turmoil and personal dangers to themselves, come to work to serve others. People like grocery and pharmacy delivery drivers, employees who stock shelves, cashiers, mailman who keep us connected by delivering packages and mail, engineers who keep the power plants running, and of course, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, EMS personnel and all the healthcare workers who take care of us when we are sick. What a great opportunity to remind your children to be grateful for those hard working and caring people. And this is just a partial list. Take a few minutes along with your children, to think of other people in your lives that help us during this pandemic, who often do so without much thanks or recognition of their contributions. Your children need to be reminded that many strangers in their lives are worthy of being appreciated, respected, and most of all thanked! Here is a great time for you to lead by example. Your children will certainly notice.
Lesson 5: Learning the Power of Unconditional Love
Lastly, let’s find ways to reassure our kids that we love them and will do everything possible to keep them safe. Things are very different and scary, even overwhelming right now. Your kids pick up on the distress of the adults that they are around, especially their parents. When you are stressed or anxious ourselves, your children sense this and become anxious themselves. So, this is a good time to spread some extra love and reassurance that can make them feel safe. Make sure they know you will always be there for them and that you love them unconditionally. Remind them that even if they forget to wash their hands or to cover their cough occasionally, that you still love them.
Well, that’s it for today! I hope you’re all staying safe and taking care of one another. If there is a silver lining in the pandemic of 2020, it’s the opportunity to spend some extra, unanticipated time with your children. Disruptive, yes but an opportunity, none the less. I’m sure many of my listeners can think of other life lessons and skills to teach your children during the pandemic of 2020. Go ahead, send them in in the form of comments to this post to www.docsmo.com. Maybe this pedcast will just be part one.
This is Dr. Paul Smolen, also known as Doc Smo, hoping you and your family are staying safe, and not moving from place to place. Until next time.