Most government around the world resorted to lockdown to protect its citizens from getting infected with the virus. Although such measures protected your physical health, it gave rise to a different kind of health issue; that is mental health. Mental health is crucial to our overall well-being. It affects our thoughts, emotions and behavior. A study done at the University of Adelaide showed evidence that the one-month confinement measures did affect the people’s mental health. But it is not just the adults who are affected, new data from Hubei shows that children also showed depression and anxiety symptoms. The challenge now for parents is how to help kids manage lockdown stress.
Children are creatures of habits. They take comfort in what is familiar. Children are used to going to school everyday. Now, they are forced to stay at home. The routine had stopped. And this causes confusion. Then, they are restricted to stay inside the house together with parents who are also trying to cope with their own stress, fears and anxiety. So, children take on cues from their parents on how to react to the situation. They know if parents are worried. At the same time, they are trying to understand how the world has changed.
Parents need to take this matter seriously and handle it with care because according to the World Health Organization, most mental health issues of adults begin in childhood. Even if we all go back to normal after the world discovered the vaccine, psychological damages won’t easily go away. This can lead to anger issues, depression, addiction and even suicide if left unchecked.
As parents, here are things that you can do to help your children manage lockdown stress:
1. Keep a Routine
Rather than doing things different everyday, it is better to keep a routine. On school days, there are study time, meal time, play time, TV time and nap time. Continue doing these activities at the same time that they are used to. The study time can further be divided into Math time, Reading time, Art time, etc. You can make use of technology to continue their learning. If content material is not available from their school, there are still tons of available information online.
2. Teach Them the Importance of Hygiene Using Their Own Language
Instead of forcing them to follow you or scaring them that they are going to die if they get the virus; teach them the importance of basic hygiene in a language that they do understand. For example, you can make them watch the Sesame Street Coronavirus special and let Elmo teach them about proper hand washing and use of face mask.
3. Encourage Them To Talk with Friends
Encourage your children especially your teenagers to do group teleconferencing online to stay in touch with their friends . At this point in time, the support and encouragement of friends will do wonders to their mental health. Just make sure that they are really talking with their friends and not some random strangers that they met online.
4. Talk and Play with Your Children
For most children, love is synonymous with time. Now is the perfect time for you to make up for lost time with your children. More than ever, they need your love, support, kindness and strength to help them go trough these tough times. Spend time with them. Play with them. Do activities together like art works, cooking, and baking. You can play board games or video games as family. You can even binge-watch movies with your kids.
Take advantage of the time to get to know and establish an open communication with your teenagers. Establish a connection by knowing about their interests, hobbies, their friends and their dreams. Listen to their music, stories, thoughts and concerns. Do things together. Try not to judge and refrain from controlling them.
5. Create Family Goals
Family goal setting will shift the focus of the whole family from the problems of today to the hope of a better tomorrow. Family goals will make the family closer to one another. It gives you something to look forward to in the future. It is the perfect venue for both parents and children to voice out their opinions, dreams and preferences. Open communication is established. Accountability, responsibility, commitment and group support are also encouraged.
Feature Image by Lisa runnels from Pixabay Images