Trying to Help Your Child Through Two Pandemics

By Madison Langweil

WAPPINGERS FALLS – As life already seemed difficult enough before Covid-19, the stakes to continue and enjoy life became higher and harder to achieve. A parent’s duty is to help guide and nurture their children for the world, but as health became a forefront issue universally, the ability to maintain a balanced life became rocky. The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) virtually presented understanding, advice, and optimism in how to maintain and improve academic performance in the midst of two pandemics; one of racism and one of health.

The featured panelists discussed overlapping topics in how to help oneself as a parent, child, and teacher to effectively communicate regularly through these challenging times. Dr. Sade Johnson described the relationship between the school, parents, and children as “partnerships.”

“I really believe in the family partnership. There are three stakeholders; there’s the child, there’s the family members who are the experts on that child, and there’s the school who is the expert on the content. Those three partnerships have to work together…in order for that child to strive,” she said.

Dawn Davenport shares her personal experience in the midst of the pandemic while learning and focusing on changes in behavior.
Dawn Davenport shares her personal experience in the midst of the pandemic while learning and focusing on changes in behavior.

Johnson discussed the presence of learning in a health crisis and one of racism. The world is in an unprecedented time and checking in with oneself and the child to support one another is important. Predictability in a routine was emphasized in her presentation where there is a balance between work and play while normalizing “your feelings and your child’s.” Essentially, taking an active role in the child’s life emotionally, physically, and mentally while coping with a slide in academics was addressed by Johnson and Tiffany Brooks. Parents are encouraged to ask questions such as “What did you learn today? How was your day? What was your high or low of the day?” to naturally engage as a family to reflect.

As Johnson recognized the importance of setting a routine, Dawn Davenport, retired registered nurse psychologist identified the emotional needs during this time. There has become a stronger presence of fear, anxiety, and depression in the youth as young as four years old. She addressed that parents should have a keen sense of observation regarding their children such as a change in appetite, behavior, and interests that could be a result of the pressures in school and the outside world.

“If we are feeling emotional about it, we can only imagine what our children are feeling about it,” Davenport said.

Davenport shared how her grandson “had a very difficult time being taken out of that social aspect and became very irritable and argumentative with his mother” and “a little bit of therapy was what he needed to get back on track.”

Something as simple and fun like an indoor snowball fight, Davenport suggested, is what one can do to help facilitate and foster a child’s needs and find that joy and hope inside oneself.

As the interactions with friends decreased and pressures in school increased, Keith Odums, school board member, says “we want to enhance the standards even though the students were online during the time.” The importance of school and ability to engage has not changed, rather it has opened parents to see that they have a bill of rights and can form an “academic alliance,” Odums calls it, as a way for parents to stay involved and take action.

Outside sources like and are great ways to reach out and take an active role as a parent.

“Going forward we ask [you] to take action,” Odums said.

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