Rebuilding Children's Confidence during Covid-19
By Ashley Costin for Childcare.co.uk News
What a year 2020 has turned out to be!
This time last year, I don’t think anyone could have even begun to imagine the impact that Covid 19 would have on all of our lives. No matter what people’s personal circumstances are, I believe that everyone has been affected in some way. Possibly none more so than our children.
There isn’t space in this article to explore the array of ways that Covid 19 may have - almost certainly will have - impacted on our children’s health and well-being, but there are some simple tips we can use to help our children rebuild their sense of self-worth, giving them more confidence to make their way in a new Covid 19 style world.
Straightforward Everyday Things
Have you ever come across the term ‘pyjama day’? Well, if you haven’t, it does exactly what it says on the tin. You lounge around all day without bothering to get dressed. Very restful. Occasionally.
As a regular occurrence though, it’s maybe not so good. When children go to school, they wear a uniform for a variety of reasons, but part of it is to do with the routine of getting dressed for a specific reason. Adults very often wear certain clothes to go to work: we know why we’re wearing them, and they signify part of our purpose for the day ahead. So, making sure that children get dressed in the morning - even if it’s only in old clothes to make mud pies in the garden - will help them to start each day in a meaningful way.
Of course, it’s just as tempting for adults to lounge around in their pyjamas, especially if there’s no incentive not to. But here’s the thing; children are extremely good learners. They learn incredibly quickly from the examples we set them, so role modelling constructive behaviours like getting dressed in the morning, eating regular meals together, or brushing teeth before bed, can really help children to build up a sense of security and self-esteem.
Role modelling for our children can be incredibly positive. Another simple thing that we all know about, but rarely give a thought to, is our body language. Take a few minutes out to think about what you do with your posture when you’re dejected. All of us tend to slump when we’re down, and it can send out negative signals to our children. Equally, body language can tell us a great deal about how our children are feeling too. Naturally, telling someone to sit up straight is probably only going to make them feel grumpier, so try playing something like a sit down, stand up game, or even a slump and stretch game. Make it tricky. It’s a great, fun way to break a low mood and is good exercise into the bargain.
It’s not just modelling body language that can help children to feel more confident and secure. Using positive language is another method we can use to encourage children to have a more optimistic approach.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to think and say things in a negative way? How often do we use words like no, don’t or can’t? It’s quite a challenging exercise to think of ways to rephrase language that we don’t even notice as being negative. Try saying ‘remember to’ instead of ‘don’t forget’ for example, or, ‘No, that’s wrong,’ could become something along the lines of: ‘That’s tricky, so what happens if we try it this way?’ Again, it’s a small thing, but children will soon begin to follow their parents or carer’s lead. The more they hear upbeat language, the more it will become a part of their own language use. It’s just another simple idea that can help to build a more confident attitude - for us as well as our children.
One of the most dramatic impacts on our children has obviously been the lost months of schooling. The ramifications of this are many and complex and can affect children’s confidence in a plethora of ways. The disruption to learning, and all the various skills that involves, is by no means the least of these.
Consider algebra, for example - most of us would have learned this at school, but wouldn’t have the faintest clue how to do it now. Well, unless you’re a certain type of engineer, or an architect, say, then you’ve probably never had to use algebra since you were at school. And that’s the point. Skills are like old bicycle wheels. Without use they rust. For young children especially, many of the skills they are learning are relatively new, and it really doesn’t take long for some of that knowledge to begin to fade.
Filling the School Gap
‘If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.’ Roald Dahl
So, what can we do to help fill the gaps in children’s learning? For many families home schooling hasn’t been easy, or even possible, but the one thing we can all do with our children is to read, read, read. Read to your children, take turns in reading, and listen to them read. It doesn’t have to be books necessarily. Read anything and everything: articles in magazines, newspapers, signs and posters in the street, instructions in cookery books, or blogs on the internet. Read jokes and puzzles. Read about superheroes, or cars, or street dance, or dragons - whatever your child loves to know about. Ask questions that encourage children to think about what they’ve read. So much of what children need to learn involves reading - even maths. It doesn’t matter how good at maths you are, if you can’t read the question, you can’t begin to answer it.
Helping children to read and understand what they read is, I firmly believe, the best way we can help them to feel more confident about their learning and help them to catch up on all that missed time.
This article only provides a snapshot of some ideas for helping to rebuild children’s confidence during Covid 19. There are many other ideas we could explore, from setting goals to learning new skills, but there is just one more I would like to touch on. Probably, talking with our children is one of the most important things we can do. We all like to know what’s happening and why we can or can’t do certain things. Children easily pick up on our worries and concerns, so reassuring them and talking about their own feelings during this time is vital.
What does the future hold? Nobody yet knows. But one thing is for sure. The more we help our children to feel positive and secure, the more confidence they will face that future with.
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