An online resource for Israeli parents to rely on during lockdown

Information on how to deal with the stress, anxiety and “social distancing,” and what to do during this uncharted crisis is flying all over social media and can be confusing and overwhelming.

ALL PARENTS are looking for answers at this time. (photo credit: Courtesy)
ALL PARENTS are looking for answers at this time.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the world into crisis. In Israel, the total lockdown has put parents into a surrealistic reality. They are home 24/7 with their children, with no entertainment or social outlets, and with strict government instructions to remain inside. Many are in a constant balancing act between working at home while overseeing their children’s “homeschooling” and online learning.
Information on how to deal with the stress, anxiety and “social distancing,” and what to do during this uncharted crisis is flying all over social media and can be confusing and overwhelming.
The Goshen organization, founded by Israel’s leading pediatricians to advance children’s optimal health, development and well-being, provides one of the most extensive information websites for parents in Israel.
With close to 600 articles, videos and activity downloads, the “Ech Gadalta” (How You’ve Grown) website provides information for parents to learn about their children’s social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral and developmental needs. It covers a wide range of topics for different age groups that include newborns, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children, teens, parents, grandparents and parents with special-needs children.
The comprehensive content was translated and adapted from Australia’s “Raising Children Network” website, with the guidance of Prof. Frank Oberklaid, founding director of Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Center for Community Child Health, and Goshen board member. All of the website’s content is in Hebrew and Arabic.
Goshen has now developed and uploaded user-friendly information to help parents navigate these trying times. Featured articles include “Explaining Coronavirus to Your Children;” “How to Build a Home Routine;” “Calming Your Children’s Fears” “Helping Your Children to Sleep;” and “Home Activity Ideas.” There are free downloads, such as a coloring book with positive messages and activity cards with different game ideas.
“In this time of uncertainty and confusion for all of us, parents are anxious and not sure how to handle the situation,” says Dr. Dafna Idan-Prusak, Goshen’s community pediatrics northern director.
“All parents, and especially those who have children with special needs, are looking for answers. They have questions about medical issues and how to deal with their children’s stress as well as their own. The website provides accurate information that can be helpful and reassuring,” adds Prusak, who did a two-year Goshen fellowship in Australia and is bringing new models of community child development to Israel.
Parents’ real-time challenges are highlighted in a questions-and-answers article that includes issues such as balancing work and family at home, dealing with feelings of guilt, dealing with constant noshing and finding time, as a parent, to decompress. The answers have links to additional information on each of the subject areas.
The timely articles relating to the coronavirus crisis have been translated into English, French, Russian and Amharic. Goshen plans to continue adding relevant material as the crisis continues – and for the day after, when families will need to once again adjust.
“It is important during this time to reach out to all populations and provide reliable resources that can help them to cope,” says Prof. Eitan Kerem, Goshen board chair and chairman of pediatrics at Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus, “especially new immigrants who are not yet fluent in Hebrew and may lack a strong support network.”
Goshen collaborates with nonprofit organizations and partners across sectors to share the website’s resources with as wide an audience as possible. It is working with the Jerusalem Municipality and MATI, Jerusalem Business Development Center to reach parents in east Jerusalem and it is a recommended resource on the Tel Aviv Municipality website.
Dr. Fuad Alsana, Goshen’s southern region pediatrician and a member of Clalit Health Services southern region management team, has been instrumental in creating awareness about the website in Bedouin communities.
Across social media, Goshen’s Facebook page is open to questions from parents, and short humorous videos dealing with different parent/child situations are on Instagram and YouTube.
“Many parents are overwhelmed with information and advice that is not tailor-made,” says Dr. Maya Yaari, a developmental psychologist and director of Goshen’s Research and Evaluation and Tipat Halav Parent and Child Health Center Initiative. “Goshen’s website provides evidence-based information with short, clear messages, with compassion and humor, which is greatly needed at this time.”
The website also offers a professional portal that includes materials on a broad range of development and behavioral issues faced by pediatricians, family doctors and healthcare professionals, as well as tools that professionals can use to work with, and support, parents. A series of eight training kits on a variety of topics can be downloaded for one-on-one consultation and as the focal point for community outreach and workshops for parents. This is especially relevant for professionals who work with vulnerable communities in outlying areas.
To access the website: