Find out what you can do as a parent to help your child’s development.
1. Simple, regular routines
These will help you and your child feel more secure. Routines will help structure your day from start to finish. You will need to plan ahead for the next day and week but keep it simple and doable – getting up time, meals, bathtime, exercise and going to bed.
2. Talk about what you’re going to do
Talk about and explain to your child what you are going to do throughout the day. Help them take turns in conversation. Tune into what they already know and build on their daily routine. Be a running “commentator”, keep your language simple.
Draw pictures, show pictures or use objects to show what you are going to do if your child needs more help to understand. If you have them, use photos of friends and/or family to talk about people that are important to you in different households.
3. Enjoy your time together
Have fun, we learn best when we are enjoying what we do. If you or your child are not enjoying something, stop, change your plan. Try to make sure you do something fun for you and your child every day, more than once if you can.
4. Selectively use devices
Use the TV and/or other devices, but choose when you are going to watch and what you are going to do. CBeebies and S4C’s Cyw have some fun programmes. Use your phone/other devices to record what you have done – kicked a ball, learnt a new song or a new word.
Turn off the TV when you are not watching it so there is not a constant stream of information.
5. Use what you have at and near your home
You don’t need to buy extra things. Walk in your garden or near home, point to flowers, birds and trees, buildings and everyday objects; name them. Play walking, running, finding games. Do a treasure hunt for everyday objects in your home/garden. Teach your child a new song or nursery rhyme.
Play catch, or rolling a ball backwards and forwards. Use mirrors in the bathroom to encourage copying and taking turns – making silly faces. Children like to repeat familiar activities. You are your child’s first and lasting teacher – you can help them learn and grow so much. They can also teach you - look at how they learn best.
6. Let your child help with household tasks
Cleaning, cooking, fixing. If they can’t help, they can watch you and you can tell them what you are doing. If you have older children, they may be able to help by talking with and/or entertaining younger siblings.
7. Create a quiet, safe place
A cocoon. Create the same for yourself – put your phone in the drawer and check at set intervals only (not too often). Acknowledge your worries, ask for help/advice if you need it and let your child ask for help. Practise relaxing and deep breathing.
8. Let your child talk about COVID-19
If your child understands a little about COVID 19, please tell them the facts very simply. Show them how to wash their hands and get them to practise washing their hands.
Find a song they like to sing whilst washing their hands or use a timer for 20 seconds.
You can also teach them other hygiene and self-help skills such as dressing, undressing, cleaning teeth and using the toilet if you’re both ready. Make it as much fun as possible.
9. Keep in touch
This could be on a daily basis or a few times a week. Choose a regular time and way of communicating (FaceTime/Skype/WhatsApp). If you are using the telephone, if you can, point to pictures of the person speaking at the other end. Decide how long these sessions will be. Start by saying “Hello” and finish by saying “Goodbye”.
Tell or show your family one thing your child has done well or learned. Decide what you will share/do, sing a song or do a dance. If you need a longer chat for yourself ring later when your child is asleep, if you are not too tired!
10. Celebrate achievement
At the end of each day, think of one particularly positive thing that you and your child have achieved and enjoyed that day. Tell them, talk about it and record it in some way, celebrate it.
Anne Marie McKigney, Consultant Child Psychologist, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
Dr Heather Payne, Consultant Paediatrician, Senior Medical Officer for Maternal & Child Health, Welsh Government (April 2020).