At this present moment involving the coronavirus outbreak, the most credible scientific based knowledge messages are urging both supportive relationships and social distancing as essential priorities in a unified effort to stay healthy inside and out. This is also an opportunity for all of us to stretch the borders of our creative capabilities.

The pivotal questions are how well we can work together as one, to protect all young children and their families and how much will we learn from this challenge as we adapt to the challenges for the future. Even during this uncertain time, it’s assuring to know that our children are still learning, growing, and developing. Harvard University Center for the Developing Child offers the following ways to support a child’s health development.

1. Practice “Serve and Return” or back-and-forth interaction with your child. Examples are a simple game of peek-a-boo. If your toddler points to a toy, name it out loud as you hand it to your child. Serve and return interactions assist in continuing to build developing brains and resilience. Resilience is something we all need in times of transition.

2. Maintain Social Connections – While we are staying apart from each other physically to slow the spread of the virus, and protect our health, and hospitals, it’s even more vital to connect socially. Staying socially connected protects our emotional and social well-being. This means consciously connecting with nurturing relationships while maintaining physical distance outside your home. This may include assisting your child in making cards, and writing a good old-fashioned letter to family, friends, neighbors and people your child misses interacting with throughout his or her day.

Suggest to your child to ask for a special memory, or a favorite photo. Encourage your child to write something he or she appreciates about the person he or she is writing to. Your child learns best by what you do, rather than what you say, so go ahead and write a letter to someone you are thinking about. Consider collaborating with your child on an encouraging poster to place in your home windows to offer a “we will get through this together” message as others walk by your home. Responsive relationships safeguard all of us against the effects of ongoing stress.

“It’s not how much we give rather how much love we put into giving.” ~ Saint Mother Teresa

3. Take a break with or without your child. Find a creative way to practice self-care by giving your stress response a rest. This may include a walk outdoors in nature. Take time to reflect on the fact that you are not alone in this transition. Many of us give and in turn need extra support from our communities. Be kind and gentle to yourself. When you creatively find ways to give yourself a break, you will be better able to meet your child’s needs and support their development.

For more resources to empower families to consciously collaborate and connect go to:

“Consciousness precedes being. Being precedes doing.” ~Plato

Sandy Block-Hansen, MS is the St. Francis Healthcare Campus Family Footprints Coordinator. Family Footprints is a Catholic Health Initiative Mission and Ministry program created to support, inform, and offer resources to parents in the role of parenting. She can be reached at or 218-643-0475.

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