The physical symptoms of the novel coronavirus are well documented but nobody talks about the mental health effects. Though children are less likely to become ill, we’re only starting to understand now after the few months, what the pandemic might mean for children’s mental health and emotional well-being.

It’s a lot for a kid to process. There’s the disruption of normal activities, the sudden split from friends, and, of course, fear of the virus itself. These difficulties are compounded for children who rely on school meals, or whose family members are sickened or facing sudden unemployment.

“Every age group is processing the events in a different way,” said Dr. Soonu Udani from SRCC Children’s Hospital, which has treated over 45 minors with COVID-19 over the past weeks. She said that children below 10 years don’t know much and are picking up tiny bits from the television and family conversations, while those above 10 years have more fear of death as they try to comprehend the severity of the infection. “Many of these children have grandparents in the hospital, others have lost their grandparents to the infection. This sets in the fear,” she said.

We as parents need to help our children during this time of uncertainty. Here are a few ways we can opt:

Model calmness, even if you have to fake it

Kids learn from us how to manage stress and solve problems when things are difficult. We need to build our immunity and hence finding out time for exercising, reading books, listening to music would make you calm. Avoid watching excessive news and social media discussions especially in front of the kids.

Provide Assurance whenever Needed

It is important to reassure your child whenever required. Listen to their concerns and try answering their queries related to the outbreak. Spend quality time with them and give the attention they need. Storytelling sessions works wonders with the kids.

Engage them in indoor Activities

During this time, children may get easily bored. Involve them in indoor games and learning activities. Encourage them to pick a hobby. Spend time with them to play puzzles and craft activities. Involve the children in some stretching exercises, yoga, or dancing. You can even involve them in doing simple household chores to keep them engaged.

Attending the Online Schools

A major factor that frames student life is a set routine comprising school, homework, coaching or tuition classes, co-curricular activities, and more studies with some entertainment thrown in. But this routine has completely been disrupted – the boundaries between study time, playtime, and me time.

Establishing a routine becomes crucial for children, especially while staying indoors the entire day, to which they are not used to. A routine will keep the child engaged and the discipline to follow that routine has to come from parents. The online courses help to do just that.

Keep them in Contact with their friends

Physical distancing from friends can be a cause of distress for the children, encourage them to talk to their friends, cousins, and loved ones by calling them up or through video calls. Arrange for the virtual meet-ups with the group of friends on a regular basis where they all can play some online games or fun activities and stay connected with each other virtually.

Manage your child’s anxiety

It is normal for your child to become anxious at these times. Looks out for emotional cues and talk to them regarding the same. It is best to avoid being judgemental when the child shares their feelings. Do not avoid their queries regarding the COVID situation and speak harshly to them. This can increase their anxiety and fear. Instead, make them understand that things will be better soon if we take proper precautions and why social distancing is important. This is a very new situation for the child as well as you.

Above all, take good care of your children’s health and ensure they practise frequent hand washing and covering their mouth and nose whenever they step outside the house. Watch out for any symptoms of COVID-19 and reach out to doctors if necessary. Ensure the children eat healthy food and get sleep and rest.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy!

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