The COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone off their game. Most adults had to deal with the changes to their reality and day-to-day lives. This made them struggle in different areas of their life as they did not know how to handle the new normal. Now imagine what that felt like for kids who could barely understand what was going on. What is a pandemic? Why can’t I see my friends? Why can’t I go to school anymore? Why can’t I see my grandparents? What is a mask? Small but impactful questions most children asked themselves in the last year. It was just as hard for them to grasp their new reality.
These new changes children were facing made them feel even more isolated from the world. From going to school every day, seeing their friends, and running around in the playground, they went to staying home all day and not seeing anyone besides their parents. This new way of living meant children lost all connection to their community. According to an Australian parenting website, Raising Children Network, allowing kids to be part of a community gives them a sense of belonging and helps them develop social skills. Therefore, taking away their active participation in a community can affect their development and their emotions. For that reason, it is essential for parents or caretakers to help kids feel that sense of community during COVID-19.
Community does not necessarily mean your neighbors and the school your children attend. A community can be your extended family, your close friends, and can even be creating within your own direct family unit. With the pandemic, that community was reduced to only the household members, which can make children feel lonely, but if families organize a schedule to spend, quality time together, and create tasks and opportunities for their children to help their “community” within their own home, they’ll have an opportunity to feel that belonging that they are currently lacking.
Children want to be helpful. They want to feel needed and wanted, and by taking time to do something together, with everyone’s full attention on eachother, they’ll develop those feelings of inclusion. This time spent together should be valued and should give the children the opportunity to help and contribute to the activity. They need to feel purpose, and parents can create that through giving their children a responsibility involved in the activity. They can be incharge of making the desserts, choosing the music, or setting up a game. This will leave them with a sense of feeling needed, included, and wanted.
Thanks to technology, parents can now also expand the walls of their home and involve other individuals in the reduced pandemic community their children are part of. This means your kid will have other people to turn to in times of need — particularly navigating such uncharted waters — or when they want to learn something new. By providing them with these opportunities, you are giving them a sense of belonging.
The sense of belonging that comes with creating a community for your children can be crucial to their development as well. We all need someone we can rely on when times get tough, and life seems to be going by too fast — which inevitably goes faster for kids. This is the kind of community readers have found in the Mom’s Choice Awards winning book A Little Spark. The inhabitants of Lake Zuron rely on each other for daily activities. When it seems like life as they know it is about to change, they trust their community can figure out new ways to make their home better again. Exactly what every parent has been trying to do since the pandemic changed their children’s lives.
Children’s books, shows, songs, and movies are also part of the sense of community we must create for kids everywhere. Giving children a safe space, a place where they belong, and people they can turn to is crucial as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Although things seem to be slowly going back to normal, creating a sense of community will allow children to feel normalcy even sooner. And in the end, it will help you as a parent feel like you have found stability in a world that seems to have gone a little bit crazy. We all need our community.