You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think – Winnie the Pooh
Are you wondering who a COVID baby is?
No, it is not a child who has tested positive with the dreadful COVID 19 virus.
This term represents a child born during the pandemic.
Fear, uncertainty, disbelief or anxiety are only some of the emotions we as adults have dealt with in these unprecedented times.
Let’s take a moment here to stop and think about the impact it has had on our children.
Take a 1-year-old child, for instance, who has maybe just started to understand his/her surroundings.
Until six or eight months, a child has no idea that she’s independent of her parents. This also may explain why most infants happily move from one person to another!
These are also the months where social-emotional development begins to take place for the child.
Being anxious around strangers is usually one of the first emotional milestones a child will reach, even in a non-covid world.
Children are social beings by nature. Socialising is a big part of a child’s overall development. They learn to manage personal feelings, empathise with people around them and interact respectfully.
Childhood is supposed to be playdates, park visits, bike rides around the building compound, and not isolating at home.
But today, children are growing up in confusing times.
Have you seen your toddler flee at the sight of a stranger lately? Or has your two years old or even ten years old child become more clingy than ever before? Are you now suddenly sharing your bed with your children at night?
All of these and more’ side effects’ of COVID are normal for your child to exhibit. Isolation at home is, unfortunately, increasing separation and stranger anxiety in children.
How are children supposed to manage their emotions, feel safe and build resilience at the same time? We, as parents, have to validate their feelings.
Is that easy for us as parents to deal with in these times?
Certainly not! With the added pressure of parenting at home while juggling our jobs, it is easy to lose your mind.
Children rely on parents to feel safe both emotionally and physically.
With older children, we need to address their fears and answer any questions they have honestly.
Acknowledge their feelings when they feel disappointed, e.g., when they can’t meet a friend in the park or sleepover at their best friends home.
Share how you feel about not meeting your friends or family members like you used to.
Assure your child (no matter what age) you will be back soon while stepping out of the house to run errands or go to work.
Give them hope that scientists are working hard to eradicate COVID and that things will get better.
Above all, as tough as it seems, it is essential to maintain a routine for children. Having a daily routine helps create a sense of reassurance in these uncertain times.
Here are some tried and tested ways you can deal with stranger and separation anxiety at home.
- Do not ignore your child’s fear of a stranger.
- Maintain physical contact with your child in the way of a hug or by merely holding their hand.
- Stay calm and do not pass your anxiety on your child. It is ok for your child to behave in that fashion.
- Be patient.
- Always have a familiar toy or book around that the child can hold while introducing her to the new friend or relative.
- Stay around the child when she needs it.
- Request the new friend or family member to be patient and wait for the child to make the first move.
- Do not worry about the grown-ups reaction or feelings. Your child’s emotions here are more critical.
- Set a routine to read every day. Reading is therapeutic!
- Even 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with your child can go a long way in putting them at ease.
- Switch on some music and dance around the house to release all the pent up energy!
I’m sure the only thought racing through your minds right now is how long will this last? Remember, as hard as it may seem for us as parents right now, we have to be an excellent example for our children and exhibit emotions and feelings just how we would like our children to!
Stay safe, stay home and get vaccinated!
Rachna Narwekar, a mother of two has been an educator since 2001. She is the founder of Rachna’s Funclub, South Mumbai’s most loved activity centre for kids. It’s a one stop shop for holistic learning for children across all age groups with a focus on unique, hands on, experiential activities.
From toddler sessions to vocabulary building, enrichment programs and ballet, you can book the best classes from Rachna’s Funclub only on Playydate