Covid-19 has disrupted financial, economic, and social activities globally and created a sense of uncertainty among the masses. It has impacted the lives of both adults and children alike. However, it is the young children who have been most adversely impacted as outdoor play and socialization with their peers is critical for their physical and mental development during these years.
High levels of isolation and over-exposure to screens because of online learning and lack of real-time experiences are making children more anxious and angry and may lead to psychological stress. Furthermore, being locked in at home, kids are spending most of the time with their parents and finding it hard to cope with their parents’ passive-aggressive reactions towards their behaviour.
Amidst these times, it is critical to properly deal with children’s emotions so that their mental health is not permanently impacted. As parents, you can make this challenging situation a lot more easier for your children by adopting the following ways:
Spend Quality Time with Your Children
Take a break from your busy work schedules to spend time with your children, by reading together, playing games or engaging in other enjoyable indoor activities for kids, such as gardening, baking, dancing or colouring. This will help in calming their minds and will create a deeper bond between you and your children as well. Even spending 30 minutes to an hour with your children everyday can go a long way in making them happier.
Connect Children with Nature
In the absence of interacting much with their peers, get them to interact with nature and make friends with the plants, birds and other living beings. Watering plants or bird-feeding, for example, will bring your children great joy and will help them cope with the isolation effects of lockdown. It will also instill a great sense of empathy in them, which is the most fundamental skill of our times.
Happy Healthy Parents Make Happy Healthy Children
In these trying times, it is imperative to keep your own mental health in check as well. Take some time out of your busy schedule and indulge in exercise and your hobbies like walking, running, playing a sport, yoga, meditation, reading, gardening, cooking or more for stress management or rejuvenating yourself. Children often imitate their parent’s behaviour. If you shout at them, they will yell back. Instead, try to stay calm when you are dealing with them.
Lend an Ear to Your Children and Appreciate Them
You should provide enough support to your children to minimise their anxiety and anger. Lend a listening ear to them when they are sharing their feelings or emotions. When your children are having a meltdown, instead of reacting and accusing them of negative behaviour, give them a hug and indulge together in a fun activity for kids and reason out with them when they are calm. Also appreciate the small things they do everyday, to give a valuable boost to their self-esteem and bring back their smiles.
Here’s a fun activity for kids that I did with my 6 year old son to make him more aware of his feelings:
“I asked him to draw a big heart on a piece of paper and write down what having a ‘vast or a big heart’ means to him. He came up with traits like ‘Does not get angry’, ‘Does not bully or tease’ and ‘Believes in the goodness of everyone.’ I then asked him to put the drawing on the pin-up board on his desk so that he can see it every day and always remember them. Now whenever he gets angry or indulges in any negative behaviour, I remind him of the ‘vast heart’. As a result of this activity, he has become more aware of his feelings and is making a conscious effort to change them.”
– Ekta Ohri, Founder-LitJoys