Quarantine is hard on everyone. We have all felt the pressure of isolation and the frustration, anger, and confusion it can bring. But parents aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of quarantine.
In Lesley Koplow’s latest work, Lilah in the Land of the Littles, Koplow gives us a world where younger children are center stage in isolation. Koplow doesn’t focus on the fundamentals of quarantine, like mask-wearing or hand washing, but rather shifts focus to how quarantine is effecting a child and her family.
We had the chance to speak with Lesley Koplow on her work and ways children are affected by quarantine.
Image courtesy of Lesley Koplow
Current Magazine (CM): Can you tell us a little about your latest work, Lilah in the Land of the Littles?
Lesley Koplow (LK): Lilah in the Land of The Littles is a picture book for children between the ages of 3 and 8 who are experiencing COVID related changes in their lives. Rather than a book focusing on the mechanics of mask-wearing and hand washing, it is a story about a child, her family, and her best friend living in the time of COVID.
CM: What was the inspiration for this work? And how do you think children will relate to it?
LK: As a therapist, I have heard from many parents whose young children are struggling with all of the change and loss that COVID times have brought to their lives. I have heard from many children who are frustrated, sad, angry, and confused about why they can’t do the things that they used to do. Lilah in the Land of The Littles helps children know that they are not alone, and that many other children feel the way they do! In the story, Lilah has lost her 5 day school week, the company of her best friend at the playground, and her mom’s attention while she is fielding work calls from home. Lilah’s best friend Jasmine has lost her social community in order to protect her grandmother who lives with her from COVID germs. As the story unfolds, Lilah’s mom gives her some treasures from her own childhood that invite Lilah to create a little world where she can feel safe and hopeful.
Young children who have heard the story of Lilah in the Land of The Littles have been riveted by a narrative that reflects their own feelings and experiences in the here and now, and by the illustrations that are colorful and engaging. Some parents and teachers have given children creative materials to play with after reading the story, so that they have an opportunity to make their own wishes come to life through play.
CM: What advice do you have for parents about quarantine and their children’s development?
LK: Many parents worry about their children’s social development suffering during quarantine. Once we are free to socialize outside of our small circles, children will make up for lost time. Keep in mind that children regress in reaction to change and loss. Regression in difficult times is normal, developmentally useful, and temporary!
When life is emotionally overwhelming, children go back to a younger version of themselves to regroup and engage their parents in ways that promote support and nurture. Children know the path between regress and progress, and will follow that path when things stabilize.
CM: What activities have you and your kids come up with to keep busy during quarantine?
LK: My daughter is in her 20s now, but was little during the time of 9/11. I remember how difficult it was to worry about our safety, be present for her, and keep her grounded in her own routines and play.
Generally speaking, young children do best when there are stable routines and they have a lot of time to play in open ended ways. Outdoor play, make believe play, building, drawing, painting, and clay are a good use of time during quarantine. Active, self directed play is the way the children make emotional sense of their life experiences. Lilah and her friend Jasmine model these kinds of playful solutions within the story.
CM: Is there anything you’d like readers to know that we haven’t had a chance to talk about?
LK: When children hear or read the story of Liliah, they often feel relief. As they hear about children who feel and act as they do, they are reassured that they are in good company. Parents who feel beyond stressed by parenting through the pandemic are also in good company! Each parent may feel that not being able to manage life in quarantine in ideal ways is a personal failing. In reality, no one can manage to parent in ideal ways in an impossible situation! If you provide hugs and hope, you are giving your children what they need.
Be sure to pick up a copy of Lilah in the Land of the Littles.
Stock photo provided by Pexels.