Qatar Nanny Training Academy provides guidance on how to maintain children’s mental and emotional wellbeing amid COVID-19
Every parent wants to see their child happy, and healthy in both mind and body. But the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly creating challenges for parents due to the various pressures and changes it has brought to their lives, and which may consequently affect the emotional wellbeing and happiness of their children.
Ways of meeting these challenges were explored by Qatar Foundation member Qatar Nanny Training Academy (QNTA) - which aims to support families across Qatar’s society by offering a specialized training for nannies and nurturing their skills in the field of childcare and education – Through an interactive webinar titled The Secrets of The Safety & Happiness of Children. Targeted at parents, it was designed to provide them with a roadmap for ensuring their children’s mental health is protected even in difficult times.
The webinar was delivered by Graziella Ghosn, academic instructor at QNTA, who has more than 24 years of experience in child education. During the webinar, she spoke about the concept of happiness, and how the current pandemic has forced parents to rethink what happiness means for them and their children – as well as how it may change our future perception of happiness.
“The happiness of your children is based on your own happiness,” she said. “In the early stages of childhood, young people tend to absorb everything from their parents.
“There is a happy and stable family behind every happy child, while children of troubled families suffer twice the average rate of depression. And this is why we must care about the way we look at our lives.
The key to happiness is in our hands. We need to pave the way for happiness to our children, and this may be done through simple and effortless habits.
“The key to happiness is in our hands. We need to pave the way for happiness to our children, and this may be done through simple and effortless habits. For example, medicine and science proved that a smile is contagious; that if you smile at someone, they will subconsciously smile back at you. Drawing a smile on your face and showing your child that you are feeling good will pass this on to them.”
Avoiding negative behaviors
Ghosn also highlighted the seriousness of parents having a negative attitude when dealing with different life challenges, and how this can hugely affect a child’s character.
She described parents as the “starting point” in the educational process, and emphasized that they should be patient and balanced, as it determines how they treat their children and makes them selective in the words and expressions they use.
“Negative expressions that parents use in front of their kids places the child in an unhealthy mindset and makes them adapt these negative personality traits,” she explained. “All these negative emotions are stored in the child’s subconscious, and these emotions eventually become ghosts that follow the child in their thoughts and actions.
She advised parents to avoid talking to their children “with an angry face, or in a sarcastic or ironic tone”, saying: “Our facial expressions, body language, anger, and negative emotions are directly reflected on the child’s personality. We may notice how our feelings of anger and sadness are transmitted to them, and they may even repeat the same words we use.
We should invest every moment we spend with our children, and set a role model for them to follow.
“Children should not fall victims to our anger and our daily life pressures. We should invest every moment we spend with our children, and set a role model for them to follow. These are valuable moments that we will be missing when our children grow up and their busy lives take them away from us”.
The webinar also tackled a key aspect of a child’s mental growth: the negative emotions that they may develop as a normal reaction to a negative experience such as fear and discomfort, or struggles in their education.
According to Ghosn, blaming children, threatening to punish them, or expressing emotional frustration towards them will negatively reflects on their mental state, and make them feel sad or dissatisfied.
“It is essential to accept negative emotions that a child develops, and look for reasonable ways of addressing them,” she said.
“The first step is acceptance of a problem, and then reassuring the child, teaching them how to develop a positive way of thinking even in bad situations, and talking to them on their level.”
One of the simplest ways to achieve happiness among children at home, Ghosn highlighted, is to "practice positivity”, and add this to the list of our daily habits.
The positive habits that parents practice in front of their kids grow with the child as they get older, and become the foundation that build their character and personality.
"The positive habits that parents practice in front of their kids grow with the child as they get older, and become the foundation that build their character and personality,” she said.
“For example, we can start the day by giving a simple positive note to the child in the morning, and going through all the beautiful moments of the day at the end of that day. Positive reinforcement is also equally important in everything that a child does".
Other ways to ensure a child’s happiness include helping them to develop a feeling of gratitude. According to Ghosn: “Children nowadays do not always possess a sense of gratitude towards the things that they have.
“This may be a result of pampering them, or the fact they have plenty of entertainment and fun. We can create special family rituals that encourage everyone to feel thankful for our blessings and appreciate their value.
“We can also involve children in voluntary activities, teach them to appreciate good deeds, introduce them to social and human values such as helping others, and instilling good values in them."