Maybe it’ll be the canceled birthday party, the baseball games wiped off the calendar, or just the third successive rainy day stuck at home, but there will be a point - or two - in the coronavirus self-quarantine when your child feels really sorry for themselves. As parents, it’s important to acknowledge those disappointments. After all, we feel them too! However, it is equally important to help your child put those frustrations into perspective and remind them that there are plenty of things that kids can do from home right now to make a difference in their community.
Encourage them to connect.
With so many people feeling isolated right now, kids can have a huge impact just by reaching out. Check with your local senior center to see if they are running any special programs to support house-bound seniors. For example, in Fay School’s hometown of Southborough, Massachusetts, children can share notes, cards, and pictures with local seniors by scanning and emailing them (germ-free) to the Southborough Senior Center at email@example.com. Suggest to your kids that they make time every day to check in with a phone call or a FaceTime to an elderly relative or neighbor to brighten their day.
Involve them in your projects.
If you are shopping for a friend or neighbor, or culling items from your own kitchen for the local food pantry, involve them in those conversations and decisions so that they feel like active participants in helping others.
Show support for the helpers.
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are on the front lines of this crisis and kids can put their energy into finding ways to show their appreciation. Groups like Hearts for Healthcare Workers are encouraging people to create and display hearts on their front doors, in their windows, or yards to show members of the healthcare community how much they appreciate their hard work during this difficult time.
Create for your community.
Encourage children to use their skills and talents to help out and build community. If your child is crafty and has some sewing skills, they can use leftover pieces of craft fabric to make face masks to share with a medical facility that is short of supplies. If they have a green thumb, perhaps they could plant an extra tray of tomato plant seeds and deliver the plants to a neighbor or family member’s front steps in a few weeks. Get them thinking about what they could do from home to make their own unique contribution.
Remind them that doing nothing is really something.
Finally, this is one of the rare moments when doing nothing is probably the most important contribution that most people can make. Every game, party, or event that your child misses is a contribution to the overall goal of reducing the spread of the virus and flattening the curve. Congratulate your kids for doing the right thing and help them understand that their sacrifices are an important part of how we will all get through this faster, stronger, and with a deeper sense of community spirit.