How are you taking advantage of this opportunity? | by Dr. Popkin

In one of my previous posts I talked about how in every crisis there is opportunity and how the Coronavirus is no exception. Now might be a good time to take inventory of how you and your children are using all this extra time at home together to work on belonging, learning, and contributing as a family. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Exercise together. Whether it’s walks in the neighborhood or doing stretches together in the family room, there are lots of ways to develop good exercise habits and teach them to each other. If you need help with ideas, just browse the Internet together for activities and video examples. Step 2: Get the potatoes off the couch.
  2. Learn together. Pick a topic that you are all interested in and research it online, together with younger kids or separately with older ones. Then share your results together with the family. Keep it fun and encouraging. And no grades, please.
  3. Have weekly chore parties. This is a great time to teach the value of contributing your work for the betterment of the family—otherwise known as “chores.” But add some music and an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie, and you’ll find that they can be not only satisfying but enjoyable. Be generous with your encouragement and laughter.
  4. Read together. Remember reading? It’s what they did before TV. Well, good news: It’s been rediscovered and kids love it! This is really a great time to curl up with a child and a good book. Make it even better by asking questions and talking about what you’ve read to help keep their brains in shape. (See Chapter 4 in Active Parenting: First Five Years, and chapter 6 in Active Parenting 4th for more ideas on reading aloud with kids).
  5. Play games together. I hear stock in jigsaw puzzles is up. My wife and I have an ongoing game of “1,000 places to see before you die.” We expect to survive this crisis, and when we do we’ll have our travel work cut out for us.
  6. Create a family art project. Art, music, video production, sketch comedy, mural, collage, family crest, slide show, mosaic, or any of a million other creative projects can be a great way to bond and enjoy each others’ company while creating something you can look back on for years as something good that came out of these trying times. (Be sure to make a photo or video of the project, or even a documentary. )
  7. Have family meetings. We’ve been teaching the value of family meetings through all of our programs for over 35 years. Families that have them on a regular basis love them. Others say they don’t have time. Well, now you do. Teaching our children the importance of participating in decisions that affect their lives is essential for a thriving democracy. Plus, it cuts down on power struggles and outright rebellions. So, it’s time to call the meeting to order.

P.S. Stay safe and teach your children how to stay safe, too!

Active Parenting Publishers founder and president Michael H. Popkin, Ph.D. has been providing research-based education programs with an emphasis on nonviolent discipline, mutual respect, and open communication for over 35 years. He is widely known for his expertise in the field of parent education and has appeared on over 100 TV programs, including CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show.