Children are going through a range of experiences and emotions right now. Distance learning, hybrid learning, COVID-19 precautions, time away from family and friends—are all having an emotional impact on us.
Preschoolers, in particular, need additional support from their parents during challenging times. One way you can support your preschooler is by teaching them calming exercises to use when they feel big or intense feelings, especially when they are frustrated or sad. You can help them practice these during tough moments, and finding time to practice them outside of the moment will make it easier for them to access these tools in the moment. You can also support your child’s emotional health through the use of predictable routines and connections throughout the day.
Below Parenting Educators at Parenting Now share their favorite tips.
There are two types of breath work we like to teach preschoolers. One is “Smell the flower, blow out the candle,” and the other is “horse breath.” With “Smell the flower…,” hold your index finger in front of your nose as you breathe in (smelling the flower) and then breathe out (blowing out the candle). Repeat several times. You might feel silly as you exhale a breath the same way a horse does during “horse breath,” but this is a great way to loosen tension and make your preschooler laugh. Does your child have an animal or vehicle they love? Feel free to get creative and make it your own! Any sounds that help them breathe in deeply and exhale slowly will do!
“Special Time” Practices
Special time practices can support families and children, even during the most stressful of times. These practices can be simple, such as a hi-five every time you walk past each other, reading books before bedtime, creating a silly handshake to do at preschool drop-off, etc. What’s most important that these special times are something that you both can enjoy and allow you to reconnect. When creating a special time practice, you can try to include these three things:
1. Eye contact with your child
2. Some kind of touch (hugs, kisses, hi-fives), if your child enjoys this
3. Comforting words
Routine and Rhythm
Even in a pandemic (or maybe especially in a pandemic), creating predictable, repeated activities throughout our days and weeks can help children feel calmer, safer, and more regulated. It can help us too!
Every family is going to have a routine unique to them. It doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s OK if you need to change something because it isn’t working. Your family’s needs will change as your child grows or your schedule shifts - that’s okay! For a preschooler, their routine could look like:
- Morning cuddles with your little snuggle bug or a quick dance party for those kids who are ready to get up and go (feel free to gently sway along with your tea or coffee in hand if you and your child have different morning energy!)
- Breakfast with the family
- Afternoon walk around the neighborhood
- Snack and play time
- Bath time and get ready for bed
Or you could just focus on creating a bedtime routine that helps your child wind down from the day and gives you some extra moments together, such as bath time, brushing teeth and reading books together.
Whatever feels best for your family, adding some predictability to the day as well creating moments of connection will help your child feel calmer and safer during these challenging times.