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  • How To Raise A Quarantined Generation Ready To Meet And Play With The Outside World

    Our youngest kids know more about virus, vaccine, and health protocols than we did at their age.
    by Thumby Server-Veloso .
How To Raise A Quarantined Generation Ready To Meet And Play With The Outside World
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/Mygate
  • Can you count how many times your family has left the house if you are raising a toddler? Since the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, our young children have been kept at home.

    Quarantined generation

    Our youngest kids are now the so-called “Quarantined Generation,” or Q-Gens, a group of children who have little or possibly no memories of what our previous “normal” used to look like. Children who either hardly or haven’t at all visited malls, museums, churches, hospitals, playgrounds, or even other relatives’ homes.

    When finally allowed to go back to schools or playgrounds, children will be masked and told to keep their distance from other kids and will possibly know by heart about frequent hand washing and sterilizing protocols.

    Toddlers are growing up in a different climate where society is anxious about this deadly virus. Words like quarantine, vaccine, variants and social distancing are part of the daily conversations surrounding them.

    Parents and child experts are beginning to worry about our youngest children. Some are reporting delays in speech development, others in motor and cognitive skills.

    Child development during quarantine

    Child psychologist Dr. Sabrina Tan shares how learning is affected for tots who are missing out on socializing.

    “Our young children do not get to go out or go to school in-person, so that means they do not get to socialize with others, and it’s harder for them to benefit from the multi-sensory and in-person interactions that amplify and solidify learning at this stage.”

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    Dr. Tan stressed the importance of play for young children and how it encourages interaction with others.

    She added, “Unfortunately, that is not possible in this lockdown. And that can have a detrimental effect on children’s development of social skills, emotion regulation skills, play skills, as well as development of language, cognition, and motor skills... everything!”

    In terms of motor skills, Dr. Tan pointed out that even though not everyone has ample space in their homes for running around, that is not the only concern.

    “We’re not talking about just running or walking,” she said. “It’s also learning to jump, skip, climb, slide, hop, chase friends, and navigate different kinds of ‘terrain’ like grass, hilly areas, sand, etc.”

    Regarding language and cognitive skills, Dr. Tan spoke about the harsh reality that parents are juggling between work from home, running the household, and other difficult situations the pandemic has brought.

    Busy and over-burdened parents and the rules of lockdown can equal children’s limited options for activities, which leads to using gadgets to help keep children occupied.

    Dr. Tan warned, “Being exposed to too much screen time at a very young age is not advisable as it can have a negative impact on their cognition.”

    She continued, “If they also don’t have enough opportunities to be cognitively stimulated in terms of ample language exposure, learning new concepts, exploration activities, etc., it could impact on their language and cognitive development.”

    We are seeing parents on several Facebook groups sharing their fears and experiences. Some have been worrying about children that are not talking or even babbling past the age of 2. Others are wondering how to help wean toddlers away from gadgets. Others are asking about physical activities they can do with their children in small spaces.

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    Silver lining of a quarantine

    There’s a bright side to the lockdown, apart from keeping families safe. Dr. Tan mentions a possible advantage is slowing down and having to re-evaluate one’s priorities.

    She shares, “This could be a good thing if it means more focus on family life, quality time with loved ones, and an opportunity to grow together in the past 1.5 years as a family unit.”

    The family spends more time together, the better attuned they become to each others’ moods, needs, interests, and values. For example, some parents find they can relate to their children more easily as they binge-watch shows together or explore hobbies like biking or gardening as a family.

    While siblings will continue to clash, they also end up relying on each other for companionship — and will most likely come out of this lockdown closer than ever imagined.

    For some families, being able to spend this time together also means talking to and playing with each other more. For young children, this would be the key to their development.

    What would it be like for our Q-Gens to be able to join the outside world when the time comes?

    Dr. Tan answers, “Depending on temperament, some children may need to ease into ‘going out into the world’, we might need to give them time to transition. For example, if they’re not used to it, they might need time to adjust to going to crowded places, or places with loud noises, or meeting lots of new people.”

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    Although that won’t be the case for all children, as Dr. Tan noted. “For some children, it may be a very exciting thing and they can adjust right away.”

    But for those children that might need to prepare for the transition when the time comes, Dr. Tan has these suggestions:

    Give a heads up

    Parents can start to talk to their children about it and what it will mean.

    Explain

    If needed, walk them through what it will be like.

    Check for questions

    Ask if they have any questions or worries, and talk about that.

    Reassure

    Give reassurances to them that you will be with them through it all, so there is no need to worry.

    We are definitely looking forward to the time when we can say goodbye to this “new” normal. To our very young ones though, it will be unfamiliar and possibly overwhelming.

    The good news is if there’s one thing we know about children, it’s that they are resilient. So it would be interesting to see how a generation raised to stay at home yet grow up tech-savvy and highly attuned to their loved ones will thrive.

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