Now that we are spending most of our time at home, concerns over the mental health of our children and adolescents are increasing as well. COVID-19 has created a major upheaval in our lives, especially for our children. They have no fixed schedules of going to school, no day-cares, no after school activities or play dates in the immediate future.
Children thrive when their environment is predictable and consistent. The changes that we are currently facing are stressful for our children and adolescent. Having said that, our response and how we help our children understand is what can bring the difference.
Below are a few pointers suggested for parents during these unusual times.
- Communication that is developmentally appropriate: Being honest surely doesn’t mean giving all the information that has been shown to us. It’s all about helping them understand and make meaning of what is happening around. For e.g.: it may be helpful to have a longer conversation about what’s happening around us with older children but stick to simple information with the younger children e.g. talk of bad germs and how it would help each one of us to stay at home during this time.
- All Is Well Acknowledge their feelings and emotions. Help your child to express his /her emotions and feelings. It is OKAY to feel sad, anxious, helpless, angry and frustrated right now. All of these are healthy emotions to feel during such times. Make them feel that it is fine to feel these emotions right now.
- Technology to our rescue: This is a time where education too has become online therefore if your child might be expressing sadness, anger and frustration as they are unable to go out and meet their friends, you can help them connect to their friends through phone or the computer. Having said that, though technology has been a boon at present it has been a bane as well for a few adolescent children. Hence parents of adolescent children need to be extra cautious as well.
- Life skills: Children have the potential to learn and function independently. Delegate home chores according to their capabilities. Foe e.g. younger children can be asked to take out trash, fold clothes, cut vegetables *under supervision, fill water in bottles, water plants and older children can definitely contribute to most of the house hold chores. But do remember we need to be a good role model for our children to follow these routines.
- Relaxation time
- COVID-19 has definitely shown us the importance of family, community, health, hygiene. Spend this precious time with your children, play a board game, make meal times fun, and a bit of yoga has never harmed anyone.
Finally, this is a great opportunity to collaborate with kids and make family time fun again. Include a skill building activity in their schedule. Children do better and cope better when they know what to expect. Last but not the least let them know that this storm shall pass too. If anyone is still finding it challenging despite doing everything, please get in touch with us at Oakridge International school at firstname.lastname@example.org