An article published on the World Economic Forum website states that lockdown is the world’s biggest psychological experiment. It is taking a major mental health toll on people. And unfortunately, our children are not excluded from this either.
Our children are used to spending most of their day in the school and then outdoors in the evening, playing with friends and frolicking around, burning off their energy. Before COVID-19, they have never known what it feels like to be locked inside the house for months getting bored and not being able to meet their friends or relatives. We as adults have been feeling so restless – just imagine the level of anxiety our kids would be going through!
On the positive side, it is laudable how the kids across the world have emerged as young warriors, braving the pandemic and accepting the situation for what it is. Still, given the current scenario, there are high chances that kids may continue to stay home even after the lockdown is open and living a virtual life for next two to three months, be it taking online school classes or talking to their near and dear ones. Hence, you could possibly see the anxiety levels rise in your kids.
The key for parents to address this concern is to give priority to kids’ emotional health and help them beat the isolation stress. Here are some tips that could make it easier for you to manage this:
Stay Calm Yourselves
There is no domestic help, daycare facility or school to share your parenting load. Understandably, you are frustrated with the turbulent change in your family dynamics. However, you need to take care of your mental health first because children catch the vibes from their parents. So, more relaxed, patient and cheerful you are, the better you can support your kids in handling isolation stress.
Establish a Routine
While children adapt to changes quickly, a structured routine acts as a security blanket for them. It is important to create a consistent pattern around morning activities, meal times, sleep schedule, play and study time, etc to give them a sense of routine at home.
Spend Family Time Together
Apart from mealtimes, dedicate one or two hours a day for family time. You all can exercise, play some games, do art and craft activities, do household chores, watch a movie/television show or do any activity together. This will not only make your kids feel good and give a sense of togetherness in these uncertain times but also relieve your parenting stress. The energy and laughter of kids are infectious!
Hug, Kiss and Cuddle Your Kids
You must have noticed your children, especially the little ones becoming clingier these days. You may feel irritated, but don’t push your kids away. They will feel rejected and unloved. Rather, hug, kiss and cuddle them as much as you can, several times a day. The touches will establish a sense of family trust and security in them.
Enrol Kids in Online Activities
From phonics and subject tutoring to robotics and storytelling, several online activities, classes, workshops and summer camps are becoming popular to engage kids while being stuck at home. You can enrol your children in any of these virtual activities and keep them busy for a few hours a day. You can browse through the online activity options across different age groups and activities on Kidwise here.
Note: Do not stress or feel guilty about the ‘extra’ screen time – these are unusual circumstances and digital way of the living is the only way for them to connect socially with the world.
Call Up Your Friends and Relatives
Make it a point to make your kids do a video call with their buddies, grandparents, extended family members or family friends once a day. You can even organize virtual play dates for your kids! Talking to people and seeing them, even though on the screen, will take away the feeling of social isolation from kids.
Have Honest Discussions About the Pandemic
You don’t need to have an in-depth conversation about the corona outbreak with your kids. But, you need to give them honest, accurate and factual information. Tell them that this is the reality of life at present, but this is just a temporary situation and life will return to normal soon.
Consult a Professional
If you notice worrying signs of anxiety, depression or any other unusual physical or mental symptoms in your children, do not hesitate to consult a certified therapist.
The world is going through tough times and our children need their parents’ presence more than ever. Be positive and make sure you are there for your kids.