PORTLAND, Maine — Children may seem pretty resilient, but there are ways in which this pandemic has taken tolls on them that parents may not see. Pam Leo has been working with families for 20 years, and has written a book called "Connection Parenting," which talks about creating a strong emotional bond with children, one-on-one.
"The same thing we need to do all the time anyway is to form that strong connection, because that’s children’s anchor in the world. That's what they have to come to always when things get scary," Leo explains. "So the stronger the connection is, the more resilient they can be. When they feel like they’re out there with no anchor, everything that’s scary is even scarier."
While it may seem like you're spending a lot of time at home with your kids lately, working from home and doing school work at home, that's not quite the same connection.
"It could be cooking together, it could be taking a walk together, it doesn’t have to be anything really big. It doesn’t have to be going to an amusement park, it just needs to be one on one time together," says Leo. "One on one time together is really the key. If you have three children or five children, carving out that one on one time can be challenging, so we might not get to do it daily but maybe we can do it weekly."
One way to build that connection early is through reading with your child. Leo says literacy creates such an important foundation in our lives; and doing it together is even better - which led her to start the Book Fairy Pantry Project.
"I learned from statistics that 2/3 of the 15.5 million children living in poverty in this country do not own even one book. When I kept seeing that statistic again and again it just broke my heart. I thought how can this be in this country? Well I can’t do as one person anything about poverty, I certainly could do some thing about getting books into children’s homes. I realized we have the perfect distribution center, which is food pantries because every community has one," says Leo. The Book Fairy Pantry helps distribute books through food pantries.
As it has grown, Leo's project has expanded into free book fairs at elementary schools and little free libraries. To learn more about it, click here.