Playful Parenting in a Pandemic - Video Supports

Young people—including infants and toddlers—are keen observers of people and environments, noticing and reacting in response to stress in their parents, caregivers, peers and their community at large. They may ask direct questions about what is happening now or what will happen in the future and may behave differently in reaction to strong feelings like fear, worry, sadness and anger in response to the current pandemic. Children can also worry about their own safety and the safety of their loved ones, how they will get their basic needs met, and the uncertainties with respect to the future beyond times of crisis like these.

These are stressful anxiety provoking times we are living in and as such to feel stressed and/or anxious is a natural response. Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the global COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic. This video series and supporting resources are here to lend a helping hand, a dose of sanity, and an injection of fun at time of intense stress, adjustment and uncertainty.

We know that simply telling ourselves (or indeed others) to calm down does not work. What does work is calming ourselves and our children (who take their emotional lead from their parents/caregivers) down in a practical doing way. We know that one of the most effective ways to release tension being held in the body is to have fun together because a good old belly laugh will release those held tensions and bring relief to a stressed out body/brain.

What follows here is a road-map to this kind of release of stress and tension using practical activities that parents can add to their parental toolkit. Each short video incorporates ‘a call for playful action’, where opportunities for play, using ordinary household and store-cupboard materials such as cotton wool, newspapers, toilet roll, flour and rice, become the means through which each of the identified themes / challenges of the crisis can be met, 

Video 1. Series Introduction Coping with Corona Coronavirus anxiety and how to talk about COVID-19 to children and teens

News of Coronavirus is everywhere, and understandably parents are concerned about how they can discuss the pandemic in a way that reassures rather than worries their children. In this video we help parents to identify how they can resource and regulate themselves so as to be available to co-regulate their own children’s experiences in challenging times like these. We will discuss the importance of initiating conversations with children and young people about the pandemic as a means of alleviating their concerns, answering any questions they may have, and as a means of provide reassurance in ways that are both age and developmentally appropriate.

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VIDEO 2.  Alone, Together Creating opportunities for familial connection while keeping our distance 

Staying home doesn’t mean you need to disconnect from friends, family, and other supports. We know that positive social support improves our capacity to cope with stress in challenging, difficult and uncertain times. As families we are facing a period of enforced isolation and social distancing as strategies to slow the spread of a disease and protect vulnerable people, which means that we are being asked not to get too close, and avoid things like kissing or hugging. While this kind of distancing is crucial at this time to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is having a profound effect on our ability to have face-to-face contact with family, friends and loved ones, challenging our closest bonds.

This video explores creative and playful ways for families to keep in touch during this time of separation by acknowledging our innate desire for social connection. By acknowledging how social isolation can impact negatively on our mental health and wellbeing, we will look at strategies to support one another, stay connected with loved ones, within the family, and with those at a distance (grandparents, friends, significant others), while demonstrating how social connectedness improves children’s capacity for resilience in the face of adversity.

                                          

 

VIDEO 3. Challenging Behaviour at Challenging Times The meaning beneath the behaviour

During stressful times such as these, where day-to-day routine and structure is out of kilter, it is common for this kind of disruption to affect our children’s behaviour. Children’s responses to stressful events are unique and varied. Some children may be irritable or clingy, and some may regress, demand extra attention, or have difficulty with self-care, sleeping, and eating. Rather than ask how we might get rid of this behaviour, it can be useful to wonder what this behaviour is telling us about our child or teen.

This video explores how children and young people’s challenging behaviours during times of crisis, can be linked to their body’s response to stress, and why this behaviour shouldn't be confused with intentional misbehaviour or defiance. We will explore the impact of stress in a practical and accessible way, and become curious behavioural detectives as we unearthing the true meaning and communication behind what is presented as challenging behaviour. We will find out what these kinds of behaviour can tell us about our child’s emotional state and how we can best support them, and us, in managing these overwhelming feelings.

                                              

 

VIDEO 4. The Comfort of Routine How to provide stability and consistency through playful presence in uncertain times

During stressful times such as these, where day-to-day routine and structure is out of kilter, it is common for this kind of disruption to affect our children’s behaviour. Children’s responses to stressful events are unique and varied. Some children may be irritable or clingy, and some may regress, demand extra attention, or have difficulty with self-care, sleeping, and eating. Rather than ask how we might get rid of this behaviour, it can be useful to wonder what this behaviour is telling us about our child or teen.

This video explores how children and young people’s challenging behaviours during times of crisis, can be linked to their body’s response to stress, and why this behaviour shouldn't be confused with intentional misbehaviour or defiance. We will explore the impact of stress in a practical and accessible way, and become curious behavioural detectives as we unearthing the true meaning and communication behind what is presented as challenging behaviour. We will find out what these kinds of behaviour can tell us about our child’s emotional state and how we can best support them, and us, in managing these overwhelming feelings.

                                     

 

VIDEO 5. Weathering the Storm

- The Importance of nurture and the healing power of touch in parent-child relationships 

Children and young people can struggle with significant adjustments to their routines - such as creche, pre-school and school closures, social distancing, home confinement - which can interfere with their sense of structure, predictability and security. This video will explore how the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver can support the repair of ruptures in routine such as those caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Warm, friendly patterns of touch calm down the recipient’s neurophysiology of stress. This means that when we touch our children in a kind, loving way the skin sends a message to their brains that they are safe, loved and deserving of good and kind care. This increases their sense of self esteem and confidence as well as their belief that they are capable of coping with more challenging times themselves. This type of touch (between a child and their important caregivers) calms the brain, which in turn calms their bodies. It actively lowers the stress hormones in the body while releasing positive, happy hormones including the so-called love hormone oxytocin. We will lead you through a sequence of play activities that have this type of touch built in as a logical part of the activities. Our primary message here is focused on creating a sense of felt safety for children. This basically means, how to provide reassurance in a doing rather than saying way. We will highlight the importance of feeling safe and reassured within your important relationships - now more than ever - and provide parents with a sequence of play activities that will help achieve this. This type of play that creates felt safety reassures children that they can exhale and relax because there is someone bigger, stronger, wiser and kind who will take care of the big stuff for them.

                                              

 

VIDEO 6.   Minding the Minder  Self-care for parents in challenging times 

While we know that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low for children and young people, research on natural disasters makes it clear that, compared to adults, children and young people are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives. This video focuses on taking the time to BE rather than DO - where we are offered a rare opportunity to strengthen connections within our families as ‘to do’ lists are shorter and there are less jobs to do like running kids to school or extracurricular activities and sports.  Time for sustaining important relationships even through stressful events and circumstances.  We will focus on how this time creates potential to discover simple ways to reconnect with ourselves and be ready to support our children at any age.

                                                   

 

For more on Playful Parenting we have 5 videos to show you how to make coloured rice ,scented doughs, sensory slime, glitter globes and balloon squishies. Click here to watch.

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