During These Times

March 20, 2020

During these difficult times and the uncharted waters that we find ourselves, there are endless streams of articles on what to do with your children to help them through. So, why not throw our hat in the ring.

Claiming no particular expertise on children and pandemics, we look to the sage advice of the old masters. Years ago, there was a question on the then popular game, Trivial Pursuit (I know I am dating myself badly here). The question was something like, “What was Dr. Benjamin Spock’s (the famed pediatrician) main advice for parents about raising children?”

The answer that he purportedly said was, “Feed ‘em, love ‘em and leave ‘em alone.

In other words, even though there will be a tendency to try and control things with children, the best approach is to let them be, let them find their own way.

Does this wisdom apply during this current crisis?

I think now more than ever.

(Funny, I wrote this blog early Thursday. Later in the evening I read this op-ed piece in the NY Times, where a mom wrote essentially the same thing, reflecting on what she should be doing with her kids at home:   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/coronavirus-home-school.html?referringSource=articleShare )

Of course, playing family games, like old school board games (if anyone plays them  anymore), would be encouraged, but you have to make it fun and lively, not like it’s a chore for them to do.

I know that some schools are setting up Google classroom and other such stuff, so they have to meet their basic requirements. My suggestion would be to set up the structure, that is the schedule, let them know the basic rules and then “let ‘em alone.”

I would sit the kids down and talk to them in very plain language (adjusted to age and level of understanding) and say something like the following to them:

“Listen up kids. We need to talk about something. You probably understand that we are all functioning very differently because of concerns with the corona virus. We will do our best to answer any questions that you may have, but we are not experts and may not have ready answers. In terms of the day-to-day, here’s how it’s going to work. We’re not going to set up too many rules, but the big rule is that you log on to Google classroom and take care of whatever the school is asking you to do. That has to come first. If you need help with it, you ask.

Beyond that, you decide what you want to do. Video games and playing outside are fine. It’s your call. We’d love to play some games with you guys – not just video games – and we want to make things as fun as possible. The only other thing that we are asking, is that you stay out of each other’s face. If you start fighting with each other, it’s not going to matter who started it. After one warning, if you keep it up, you’re both going to spend 20 minutes by yourselves in your rooms or in separate areas with no cell phones, iPads or other electronics. That’s it.”

Now, I don’t know if Dr. Spock (the pediatrician, not the Star Trek one) would fully approve, but I’d like to believe what I am recommending is in the spirit of “Feed ‘em, love ‘em, and leave ‘em alone.”

Copyright, 2020 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com

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(***  Please note: Dr. Richard Selznick is a psychologist, clinician and author of four books.  His blog posts represent his opinions and perspectives based on his years of interacting with struggling children, parents and schools.  He reminds readers that he is neither a scientist, nor a researcher.  The  advice in the blogs and in practice is governed by one overriding principle – “If this were my child, what would I do?”   The goal of the blogs and the website is to provide you with straight-forward, down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice and perspective to help cut through all of the confusion that exists in the field.)



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