No school, no friends, no playdates, and no outdoor activities!
Whether you live in an Asian country or reside in a city in Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone’s live upside-down, and children are no exception.
The outbreak of this virulent disease has left many parents grappling with a situation in which they do not know how to help their children understand the sudden change in their lives. As a parent, you’re probably dealing with a difficult situation of not only explaining to your children what’s going on but also trying to help them cope with all this calmly and confidently.
There is no denying that the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 pandemic has affected children in numerous ways. From nationwide closures of schools and quarantines to social distancing, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for the families, especially the parents of young children, to keep a sense of calm.
Many parents around the world are experiencing a hard time helping their children feel secure and manage their behavior. Children are feeling anxious, uncertain, and more notably, isolated. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic effects, experts and psychologists think that this feeling of grief and fear may impact the mental health of the young kids.
That is what makes it imperative for parents to put in efforts to keep their children engaged in healthy activities to minimize the impact of chaos caused by this deadly virus. Put simply, parents need to watch out for the ideas that not only entertain their kids but also provide them a much-needed escape from the fearful environment.
If you are a parent and relate to this, the article may help you make a healthy routine and build resilience for your kids. The tips and ideas may serve as COVID-19 support for parents.
Parenting in the Time of COVID-19
As we mentioned earlier, parenting has become a cumbersome task due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. From working conditions, meeting norms to family life, the crisis has changed everything dramatically. It has mandated social isolation, which is, without a doubt, an entirely new concept for not only adults but children too.
However, it is worth mentioning that children can thrive in a wide variety of situations and settings. A bulk of emerging evidence has shown that a supportive and healthy parent-child relationship can be tremendously beneficial for children for managing stress and behavior.
Moreover, many child psychologists believe COVID-19 for parents can be a chance to make their kids mentally strong and build resilience for the future challenges of life.
Not only this, but a recent study from clinical psychology researchers also shows that stressful contexts like a COVID-19 pandemic can be an opportunity to strengthen parent-child relationships. They promote healthy relationships, as parents get to spend a lot of time with their kids.
In short, if you have not seen this pandemic from this perspective, now is the right time to do that to improve your parenting skills.
Address Children’s Fears
This is one of the most critical aspects that parents need to deal with in order to make their children understand the chaos that the COVID-19 crisis has caused. Keep in mind that your child relies on you when it comes to physical and emotional safety. He or she looks up to you when they face a hard time or have to solve even the smallest issues in life.
That means reassuring your kids that they are not alone, and you and them will make it through as a family, is critically important. Addressing their fear is the first step you need to take to help them develop a better understanding of the situation.
Here is how you can do that.
- Recognize Your Little One’s Fears and Feelings
You can start by recognizing any unusual behavioral patterns and fears in your child. If your child is afraid of the situation, upset for not being able to meet his or her friends, missing school or outdoor activities, etc. asking some guiding questions is one way to help him/her work through problems. Make them feel that they are not alone and try to figure out a solution with them to keep in touch with their friends.
- Do Not Avoid their Questions about COVID-19
Parents need to talk about frightening news or any COVID-19 pandemic update their children see on TV or social media. Avoiding the matter or putting it away for some another time may not only make it difficult to comprehend for your kid but also double his/her anxiety and confusion.
You need to be honest about what is happening in the world. Tell your young ones why people are suffering from this virus, what the precautionary measures like “staying home,” and “handwashing” are, which they should take to stay healthy.
- Model, the Behavior to Teach Them Emotional Management
This might seem complicated, but it can be a great way to prove something practically. Discuss with your kids how you manage your emotions. For example, tell them you have not seen your parents for a long time and you are worried about their health, but this is the best you can do to protect them. Plus, tell your kids that you do call your parents twice a day to keep a check on them.
- Shower Hugs and Kisses
Last but not least, offer lots of hugs and kisses to help them regain their strength.
Talking about COVID-19
A part of this article has already mentioned that avoiding discussions on coronavirus disease will not help you overcome your children’s fear. Know that your children are absorbing information about the virus consciously or unconsciously. While you cannot stop them from hearing it, what you can do is make sure your kids get a reliable COVID-19 pandemic update.
Take a look at these tips to find easy ways to talk about the COVID-19 crisis.
- Find out the degree of information your child already has about the COVID-19 pandemic by gearing questions that suit his or her age level. Initiate the discussion by simply asking, “what do you know about the new viral disease that is going around?” This will give you an excellent chance to find out how much your kid knows or if he/she is hearing the right information.
- Offer honesty and comfort by making your child feel safe, but it is important to be truthful. Try not to give more information on the COVID-19 crisis than your kid is interested in. For instance, if your child asks about the closing of malls and stores, address the question. But if this topic does not come up, there is no need to bring it up.
- If your children ask something you have no information about, buy some time to find out the answer. Use only reliable and up to date information to help your kids avoid hearing scary news about the COVID-19 crisis.
- Know when your children need guidance. It is essential for parents to watch out how their children get information; especially, if they are teenagers and go online. Make sure they watch only age-appropriate content under your guidance.
- Talk to them about the efforts of frontline health professionals. Tell them how everyone can help them fight the virus by staying home and taking measures. Let your kids take out the stress through discussion.
Keep Healthy Routines
It is quite unrealistic to believe that your kids can continue with a regular routine during this traumatic and stressful time.
However, it is vital to maintain a healthy routine, even if your children stay up later than their usual hours. A good routine can help both, you and them, cope up with stress and become more resilient. You can work through a schedule to tell your children when to get up, eat meals, do schoolwork, play, watch TV, and sleep.
You can also include times allotted for your own personal or professional work. The best way to do it is to structure a day by breaking up a task for your children. If your kids are older or in their teen years, ask them to create a schedule themselves but tell them the general rules. For instance, they must break the day in the following tasks;
Waking-up routine, breakfast, getting dressed, active play, snack time, schoolwork, lunch, exercise, household chores, screen time, reading, and bedtime.
Keeping It Positive
Seeing your children stressed is probably the most upsetting thing for you. So the best thing you can do to help your child get over the COVID-19 pandemic effects is telling them that this is a temporary situation and health professionals are doing their best to find a cure to this virus. It will help him overcome fear and look forward to the good times.
That is to say, keeping it positive is all about letting your children escape the negative thoughts, anxiety, stress, or fear during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some effective ways you can use to help your kids stay positive and hopeful in this time of uncertainty.
- Keep Children Busy
Planning healthy and interesting activities for children can not only help you keep them busy but help them avoid negative thoughts. Drawing, making stuffed toys, baking cookies (under guidance), and gardening are some more ideas to divert their mind.
- Reinforce Good Behavior
Reinforcement has a vital role to play when it comes to encouraging positive behavior in children. When you praise or appreciate a child for successfully completing any task like homework, chores, or even setting the dinner table, it works wonders for his/her emotional and mental health. And a happy child can better handle him/herself during stressful times.
- Make them a Part of Charity Work
When your children know that they are putting efforts to help people survive the pandemic, it will make them more confident and optimistic. That is why it is essential to make your children become a part of social or charity work, such as distributing masks and food among needy.
Keep Calm and Manage Stress
We all understand that it is a stressful time that requires sheer persistence, positivity, and mental strength to get through it. That means taking care of yourself is also important if you want to support and help your children manage stress during a pandemic.
If you feel it is hard to keep calm and manage anxiety during coronavirus pandemic, the given tips can get you through a tough time until things get back to normal. Remember that the more positive and strong you become, the better parenting skills you will have.
- Everyone Is in the Same Boat
Don’t forget that the entire world is suffering from the same anxiety and fear as you, meaning you are not the only one experiencing the dark days. So instead of stressing out or panicking on the situation, talk to a friend who can perk your spirits
- Meditate or Practice Mindfulness
Meditation is undeniably an excellent way to get rid of stress regardless of what’s causing it. Taking deep breaths, sitting quietly, and repeating affirmations can help you think positive during this time. You can find lots of easy meditation techniques online.
- Take a Must-Needed Break
You want to become a good parent and be with your kids whenever they need you. It makes sense, but it does not mean that you do not need a break. Adding some “me time” to your parenting manifesto is crucial if you do not want to become a cranky parent.
In short, take some time out for yourself when your children are busy or asleep. Do something that relaxes you and helps you de-stress because you absolutely deserve it.
All in all, this COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended family life around the globe. Remote working, social distancing, and school closures are taking a heavy toll on people, especially parents. Parenting, in these times, requires a lot of effort, positive thinking, and mental strength to keep children face this challenge. If you are optimistic about the good times and believe in what you are trying to preach to your kids, every word you say will make a positive impact.