Sharing Your Interests with Your Children During COVID-19
Giggles and joy frequently emanate from children playing with their parents. Yet, while playtime typically brings much happiness to children, we, as parents, can feel so burdened by responsibilities that we sometimes forget how to play and lose out on feeling the happiness of capturing such moments. The COVID-19 crisis has elevated parental anxiety, making it even more challenging to be present and relaxed. However, by sharing your interests — whether cooking, music, dance, art, books, or sports — with your children, you can ensure that you both enjoy playtime.
Cooking with your child creates lots of opportunities for fun, learning, creativity, language development, and memory-making, Try pulling out a favorite family recipe and share with your child your memories about occasions when other relatives joined together to prepare these foods. There are many cooking tasks, such as pouring ingredients, mixing batters, decorating cookies, and even helping to roll out pie dough, that are child friendly. As you talk about adding a cup of flour or a teaspoon of vanilla, your child will be learning about measurements and how math is applied in practical ways. Pizza, a kid favorite, can be prepared at home with children placing cheese and tomatoes. on the crush. Children feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when they have played a part in cooking a meal.
From nursery rhymes to TV theme songs, children love music. Parents, however, often cringe at their children’s taste in music. As long as the lyrics are appropriate, parents can share their own favorites. Children love tapping their feet to the beat of most music. With a few repeated listenings, your child may come to enjoy, even love, your favorite songs. Dancing to the music can make listening to music even more fun. Any area can be transformed into a dance studio. Just clear some space, turn up the music and whirl, jump, and stomp around. To make it even more fun, add some scarves, ribbons, shiny clothes or toy instruments.
Even in the early years, parents and children can engage in art activities together. Keep in free form and simple and you will find it is relaxing and fun to get those creative juices flowing. Make collages with materials such as bits of fabrics, old ribbons, and strips of paper. Add some markers, crayons and glue and scotch tape and stickers. Paint cardboard boxes or sidewalks with water using an old toothbrush. If your passion is sports, share your enthusiasm. While toddlers can’t play a full game of soccer, they can have fun kicking a ball or learning basic maneuvers. Adults who engage their children in activities they enjoy, often have more fun and display more intense positive emotions. They smile and laugh more often, talk more with their children, and speak in an energetic and excited tone. Children pick up on these differences and derive greater enjoyment from interactions where parents are enthusiastic. Such exchanges, full of mutual excitement, are likely to be remembered for many years.
Patrice Cuddy is Director of the Parent Child Plus Program at WJCS-Westchester Jewish Community Services.