Children need space to play

Childrens hospital occupational therapists, back from left, Mereille Pursad, Melissa Filter, Tamar Koekemoer, Ashleigh van Zyl and seated from left, Danielle Ferraris, Caroline Morgan and Nadia Domingo.

Children need space to play during this pandemic, says Mereille Pursad, the head of occupational therapy at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Children learn through play and it also contributes to their physical, intellectual and emotional development, she says.

“It teaches them resilience and gives them confidence.”

As part of Occupational Therapy Week, from September 14 to September 18, the hospital is looking at ways to take better care of children during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has come up with four ways parents and caregivers can do just that:

Quality time: When caregivers engage in play with their children, it provides the child with security, allows for connection and builds a bridge for enduring relationships.

Keep it positive: Children may express their stress by means of defiant behaviour such as tantrums, irritability and withdrawals or clinging to caregivers. By listening to your child, making use of positive words and praising a child for what they do well, we can create a positive environment for understanding and adaptation.

Structure it: Routine is vital in the establishment of a sense of predictability, stability and security. The more a child can anticipate what is ahead, the better they are prepared to face daily challenges and expectations.

Keep calm and manage your own stress: Hospital occupational therapist Danielle Ferraris says: “We strive to look at each of our patients and their caregivers holistically and strive towards maximising their quality of life and we acknowledge that it is a stressful time. However, you cannot pour from an empty cup.”