Children, COVID & mental health.

What does the future look like?’

How would you answer this question?

What if this question is asked by a 10-year-old?

With the current times and uncertainty in the air, there is a lot of focus on social media or otherwise around self-care and mental health. There are specific coping channels, forums, call lines, etc. In-fact few businesses are focusing on this very idea to market their products and services.

This is great because it brings focus on the less-discussed topics and opens room for discussions. So, let’s add one more item to the list – the mental health of a child.

Whaaattt? Children? What stress do they carry? They are safe and sound, well-taken care by their families. 

Consider this.

As a grown adult with access to information on COVID, we sometimes find ourselves stressed out. Whether it is listening to the news on raising cases, positive cases identified in your area, or even a mere suspicion, extended work from home, or the worry of unemployment and finances. How do we make sure there is no spillage over to the children?

First off, since we are all under one roof, there will be a certain percentage of unavoidable spillage. That is OK for a simple fact that we are human, and sometimes we are driven by our emotions. 

How do you ensure the children in the house are not negatively impacted by this spillage. Or even in general?

While we can’t eliminate the impact completely, here are some tips that can help –

  1. Try to be conscious of when you switch on/off your stress button.
  2. If you need some time to release the stress, try taking a walk on the terrace or take a breather in a room (minus the child/children). Even the 5 mins you can steal can help.
  3. Decide who among the grown-ups are playing the ‘good cop’ and ‘bad cop’ in the house. Children at this time naturally tend to get restless and seek attention. Too many disciplinarians under one roof can make the child feel like they are being attacked.
  4. Have a snack time discussion with the child on what is happening out there. The more realistic picture you give, the better. Fine-tune how you relay the nasty details, though. Again, this will open a communication line directly with you rather than them seeking information from any online sources.
  5. Try a myth vs. facts game on COVID, to increase awareness.
  6. If the child has access to social media, encourage them to validate with you, the news/information shared there.
  7. Engaging kids on online activities surely keeps them busy but also allows them to be with their friends and adds normalcy.
  8. Schedule fun video group calls for them to hang out with their friends. With you out of the room. 🙂 
  9. Make sure you spend ‘quality’ time with the child. 
  10. Reassure them to be positive and let them know they are loved. The latter is obvious, but being vocal helps.  
  11. Have a ‘how was your day’ conversation at the dinner table. You get to share how your day went, too.  
  12. It is OK to confess in the child that grown-ups also can feel scared and stressed at times. Children are surprisingly understanding of this and can be very empathic towards you or the situation. 

This article on WHO (World Health Organization) shares few thoughts – Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak.

Image credits – Image by chiplanay from Pixabay

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