ECA advisory on how to support children’s emotional, social development during pandemic

ABU DHABI, The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority, ECA, has released new tips for parents based on child psychology and behavioural adaptability to help children positively approach the changes during this time.

“During this time, children are adjusting to circumstances that leave them brimming with numerous questions. As a parent, it is your role to support your child’s emotional and social development by providing an abundance of answers and support,” an advisory issued by ECA on Monday said.

Specialists at ECA said that social distancing can be viewed as a privilege, as it allows for quality time with family members. “Time with parents is often seen as a gift through a child’s eye as they fundamentally need love, care, interest and encouragement. Spending extra hours with your children, listening, schooling, doing activities and more, will enhance their emotional development and behavioural adaptability,” the ECA team added.

Children are highly observant and aware of the subtle changes around them. When these changes take place rapidly a child’s coping mechanisms are highly dependent on the emotional and social relationship with its parents.

“In order to ensure a smooth transition from normality to new routines, the primary caregiver must be present and express care for the needs of the child. This will foster a sense of reassurance and protection, allowing the child to be calm and adapt to the changes”, ECA advised.

When asked questions about ‘what is taking place’ or ‘why certain things need to be done’, ECA said it is best to avoid ambiguous narratives and instead, provide honest answers with delicate explanation, assuring they are safe and well taken care of. “This will build trust and improve the relationship between child and parent.”

“By remaining attuned to the needs of the child, it is possible to nurture their understanding, acceptance and control of emotions. Children need to be reassured that their emotions are legitimate and taken into consideration.”

Moreover, the advisory said that during this prolonged period of social distancing, children will convey an array of feelings and it is crucial that these emotions are not dismissed. “Help alleviate these feelings by reassuring them that everything will be back to normal eventually and we are safe inside with the family. This will help them deal with their emotions and communicate them better with others.

“Positive reinforcement and encouragement are brilliant methods to grow new behaviours and skills. Children will learn to manage the new situation by encouraging ‘trial and error’. Children are meant to make mistakes and grow, praising them for the efforts made during this time will boost self-confidence and the capability to learn without self-doubt,” it explained.

In current circumstances, it is only natural for both parents and children to feel uneasy. Therefore, ECA recommends that parents “Use these moments as an opportunity to demonstrate appropriate actions to resolve misunderstandings. Not only does this help a child to understand what are acceptable behaviours, but parents accepting their mistakes allows children to accept theirs as well, leading to better communication and social skills as they grow older.

While children have been used to enjoying activities and playtime at nurseries and schools, they might lack ideas on what to take on while at home.

That’s why, the advisory noted, “taking part in their hobbies indicates appreciation and approval of their interests.”

“This will help boost self-confidence and motivation,” it concluded.

Source: Emirates News Agency