Kids mental health during pandemic

A few days after my recovery from coronavirus, I noticed a few subtle changes in my 11-year-old daughter’s behaviour. She had stopped smiling and she would get worried easily at the tiniest thing. After some coaxing, she shared that she was feeling uneasy, fearful and nervous about the whole pandemic thing after witnessing it first-hand at our home. I realized that it was her anxiety speaking. Luckily for me, her anxiety abated within 4-5 days after I spent more time with her, reassuring her and cuddling her whenever she needed it.

It’s been more than 15 months of COVID-19 and our children are still unable to go to a physical school, play with friends and enjoy the outdoors. Never before they have watched sickness and death at such close quarters. It is natural for them to feel stressed, sad, anxious, angry, helpless, hopeless, depressed, aloof, irritated or apprehensive. The mental health of children has emerged as a real concern in the current situation. As parents, you can safeguard your children’s mental health in the following ways:

  1. Acknowledge Negative Emotions

If your child is showing some kind of negative emotions, try to find out the trigger. Is it due to an incident that happened at school or home? Is there some other reason? Do not brush children’s feelings under the carpet, especially if they persist for more than a few days. Tell your child that it is fine to feel bad, but you want to know what’s bothering them so that you can help. It may take some gentle persuasion, but eventually, your kids will open up to you.

  1. Be Honest and Provide Accurate Information

After talking to your children, you may realize that some of their fears and anxiety are baseless. However, it doesn’t mean that you ignore their feelings. You can them real facts about the situation and explain that it is a phase that will pass soon.

  1. Engage Them with a Regular Routine and Fun Stuff

While we all are bored at home, and itching to go out and travel, we don’t have that liberty yet for safety reasons. So, despite being stuck at home, it is important to follow a family routine. Don’t let their schedule go haywire, unless for a situation out of your control. An established routine gives a sense of trust to them.

Try to have at least one meal of the day together so that they feel the family bonding. Plan some fun, age-appropriate activities for them. You can also enrol them in afterschool activity or hobby classes. Pamper them with new books, toys and games occasionally. Order home deliveries of restaurant meals. Watch a movie or show on Netflix or Amazon. Encourage them to do a video call with their extended family and friends at least once a day. Get them do physical exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. These activities will keep their mind off the pandemic.

  1. Lead by Example

Children tend to pick up emotional cues from their parents. If you are worried and anxious, your kids will feel that something is wrong, and will mirror the same emotions. Hence, even if you are going through some kind of turmoil, it is advisable to refrain from expressing it in front of kids. In case of an unavoidable situation or unfortunate family circumstances, make them aware of the facts while giving assurance that all will be well.

  1. Talk to a Counsellor

If the children are unable to cope with negative thoughts or emotions for a longer period, and it adversely impacts their day-to-day life, behaviour and personality, it is a red flag. You should not hesitate to seek the help of a mental health counsellor. Timely intervention can save your child’s mental health from potential harm if any.

We hope these tips have been helpful. Take care of your children and stay safe!

About Smita Omar

Smita is an ex banker who voluntary said adiós to a high flying career to explore the rocky yet beautiful terrain of motherhood. When she is not busy juggling between her naughty daughter and foodie husband, you can find her donning the hat of a freelance content developer-editor to keep her sanity intact. She has been a Work-From-Home-Mother for 8 years and turns to meditation when the going gets tough.

  1. Kanika Garg 2 years ago

    Hope third wave doesnt come and our kids are safe

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