Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority encouraged parents to cultivate a healthy lifestyle in their children at a young age. ECA has published an advisory that offered detailed tips for parents about hygiene practices, communication skills and daily routine, stressing the importance of keeping children informed, while taking into consideration the age and developmental status of the child.
"Social distancing has provided a unique opportunity to re-frame how we engage and interact with children. With the vast majority of adults working from home and students participating in e-learning, it is crucial that we unite with parents and guardians to navigate this new landscape and teach children habits and lifestyle skills that will allow them to stay healthy, confident, curious, able to learn and develop strong values," said the advisory.
The advisory detailed tips on healthy lifestyles and hygiene practices as follows: It is important for children to cultivate a healthy lifestyle at a young age, starting by practicing proper hygiene. Now more than ever, washing hands thoroughly with soap at frequent intervals is very important.
During every wash, they should wash each finger, rinse well and dry off their hands properly. A good way to ensure all they wash thoroughly is by making them count to 20 or teaching them a 20-second-long song.
To help them understand the essentiality of this, parents can conduct a fun experiment at home to illustrate how soap kills germs: Put some glitter in a bowl of water and let your child swish their hands in the water. Instruct them to rinse the glitter off with water only and show that a lot of the glitter will remain. Then, ask them to wash their hands using soap and see for themselves, the glitter wash away, demonstrating how germs stick to hands and a thorough wash with soap removes them.
Place some black pepper in a water bowl. Then place a few drops of liquid soap in the bowl. The black pepper will move towards the rim of the bowl, away from the soap. Just like the glitter, this will emphasize that soap kills germs.
Encourage communication skills Another positive practice to reinforce during this period is communication. Children are extremely perceptive and often listen to adults when they speak.
With so many digital mediums available, children have access to news and information regarding the happenings of our society, both local and worldwide.
Parents should always serve as the primary source of information to prevent them from using unreliable sources. It is common to pacify children by telling them everything is okay, however, the best way to reassure them is to be truthful and make it known that you are available to discuss and comfort them as needed.
As many young children will be unable to understand the meaning of a pandemic, speaking to them in a language they can understand and answering questions they may have it crucial.
By conversing, the skills you are indirectly teaching them is to remain observant, ask questions, communicate their feelings and ultimately, to be problem solvers.
Always keep in mind that each child is different. Some children may show limited awareness to lifestyle changes while others may require more attention and nurturing.
There is no ‘normal’ response to an abnormal situation. Listen to the child’s concerns and watch body language in the case of an infant, letting them know that you are there to keep them safe and protected.
Organisation and routines Surprisingly, most children desire a stable and consistent routine as this allows them to find order and calm in their practiced activities. While social distancing, you can maintain structure by setting a functional schedule of activities to perform throughout the day.
From wake up and bedtime to study and play times, build a routine that your child is comfortable following.
Depending on their age and developmental level, speak with them to decide on the best time for each activity and allocate a duration to ensure that the day is well planned and productive.
Involving them when creating the routine would help them understand why each activity should be done and ensure they follow through with it.
It may take some time for you and your child to adjust to the routine, but the long-term benefits will be visible as your child begins to thrive at home.
To ensure that the child does not abandon the routine, parents must lead by example by following the schedule as well.