Childcare expert shares tips to help kids socialize during quarantine

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — With capacity limits on many daycare programs amid COVID-19 concerns, some Stateline families have opted to keep their little ones home. But all the quality time with mom and dad means less social interaction.

We have tips on keeping toddlers connected with the outside world.

Marissa Lesner is a mother to two boys–3 1/2 year old William and 8-month-old Ben. Lesner chose not to enroll her kids in daycare because of safety concerns.

“We just don’t want to risk it and I have the chance you know I’m blessed with the opportunity to stay home with my kids and so to keep them as safe as possible is what we decided to do,” Lesner said.

However, she says she is worried about the socialization skills her kids will miss out on.

“William is a very social kid, so for him to be inside and not being able to play with friends all the time–it’s been tough,” Lesner added.

School psychologist Rebecca Branstetter says the long-term effects of minimized socializations for young kids still isn’t know, but says parents should consider the “three C’s.”

“The first C is connection, when children are connected they are protected from stress… play with them, engage and chat with them,” Branstetter said. “The second thing you can do is conversation, if they are really young have that conversation through play, play it out, role play things.”

“The last C is coping, these are opportunities to teach our kids coping skills and starts by identifying how you think and feel,” she explained.

Lesner says having ‘playtime’ with her kids’ ages has helped.

“We have games that we’ve been playing upstairs, we’ve been playing Candyland a lot and we try to keep things moving throughout the day,” Lesner said.

Branstetter agrees that it’s a time meant for parents to get creative.

“So right now parents really need to get creative since we know that “play is the language of children there’s an opportunity to talk with your child about the challenges they may be having,” Branstetter said.

Rebecca Branstetter, Ph.D., is a school psychologist, speaker, and author of several parenting books. Her newest online course, Peace of Mind Parenting, is specifically designed to help parents navigate parenting in a pandemic.

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