Anyone living with kids during this pandemic is very well aware that children are taking this lockdown a lot worse than adults. In fact, some surveys suggest that about one in every four children living under the COVID-19 lockdowns is dealing with anxiety and even suffering from feelings of depression.
However, the problem doesn’t end here. Many of these kids are at a risk of lasting psychological distress.
According to some studies, the feelings of loneliness, helplessness and the fear of being socially excluded can have a higher effect on children. Boredom, social isolation, prolonged stress, mostly due to the lack of outdoor play, can cause a number of mental health issues in children, including depression and anxiety.
A Senior Child Protection Advisor at the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Unit of Save the Children, Anne-Sophie Dybdal, stated that,
“People who are outside regularly have lower levels of activity in the part of the brain that focuses on repetitive negative emotions. This is one of the reasons children can slide into negative feelings or even depression during the circumstances they are living in now.”
So in times like these, it is necessary for parents to be conscious about how they deal with their kids. Especially as the lockdown rules are starting to get lifted, it is necessary to be aware of your child’s mental health.
Settling Kids Into Post Lockdown Life
As the lockdown is getting softer in most parts of the world, it is important to remember that you still have to practice social distancing.
People around the world have so many plans to execute once the lockdown is completely lifted, that they aren’t thinking about the precautions they will still have to take. Or maybe we have been practicing precautions for so long, that we just want to believe that once everything settles down, we don’t need to be as careful anymore. Either way, we have to change our frame of mind.
The COVID-19 virus is generally more fatal for kids, as they have a higher risk of not recovering from the virus.
So here are some tips you can follow to keep your kids’ mental and physical health in check.
Introduce Them to Some New Indoor Activities
As Anne-Sophie Dybdal has stated, outdoor activity helps reduce focus on negative feelings. But since you can’t let your kid go out and play soccer, it is a better idea to introduce some indoor activities. Get them into playing some board games like chess, scrabble or monopoly. Or get them some puzzles. This way, they can challenge their brains while having something to keep them occupied.
If they really need to get out of the house, let them take a bike or a skateboard. These activities can be done without the need of anyone else, so they’d still be practicing social distancing without having to stay locked in. But remember to practice all the safety measures with them. This will help keep their mental health in check without becoming overbearing.
Don’t Overdo the Activities
This may seem to counter the previous point, but it is also necessary to know where to draw the line. Some kids may not like being pushed into new activities during a time like this. So if you feel that your child is showing resentment, it is necessary that you ease them into it. Try to find things that you know for sure they’d enjoy.
Make them understand the importance of having a new hobby. Create a calm and enjoyable environment for them within the house. When you keep the peace alive inside your house, you may find your kids automatically getting into activities they would otherwise find boring.
Make Them Continue Safety Precautions as They Leave the House
Although a lot of schools and colleges willcontinue to be closed even after the lockdown gets lifted, your kids may anyway find a reason to get out of the house. So it important that you teach them exactly how they need to live through times like these. Make them understand how to draw the line between when it is actually important to leave the house, and what activities can be skipped.
When they do leave the house, remind them to practice all the safety precautions you have been practicing during this lockdown; ensure they wear face masks, don’t touch their face unnecessarily, keep a sanitizer with them at all times, wash their hands as often as possible, avoid human contact etc.
Help Them Adapt to the New Lifestyle
If you think that life will go back to ‘normal’ as soon as the lockdown gets lifted, then think again. Things may never be the same again. COVID-19 has been a unique change in the world, and eventually, we will have to learn to live with it. So the best thing we can do right now is to adapt to it as soon as we can and teach our children about it as well.
Instead of trying to go back to the normal as we knew it, try to get familiarized with this new ‘normal’. Easing your kids into it may be more difficult than it seems. But you have to remember that kids are the most adaptable when it comes to trying new things. Start early on, so their journey may become a little easier.
The most important thing is to be aware of your kids’ individual needs. Start early, but take baby monitoring steps. Don’t force them into anything. Instead, make them aware of the situation and ease them into it. And soon enough, you’ll notice your kids are adapting too.