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10 Tips to alleviate your Child’s mental stress placed by Covid-19 pandemic

By following these tips parents and caretakers can alleviate their child’s mental stress placed by the current pandemic.

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Corona pandemic has created disastrous impact on physical, mental and social status of every human being especially the most vulnerable ones like children.The innocent mind is unable to fathom the happening around them and the ever pervading lack of normalcy. Also they are witnessing high levels of stress and anxiety among  the adults around them. Experiences of the new routine of staying cooped up at home; unable to frequent places they have enjoyed, meeting friends, play and activities that they enjoyed, have created a sense of insecurity in children even as young as two years of age.Therefore, listening to children’s perception about COVID-19 is essential; and providing children with an accurate explanation that is meaningful to them will ensure that they do not feel unnecessarily frightened, overanxious or guilty. Stress in children in this pandemic is caused by multiple factors and parents have to be extremely cautious to alleviate this mental stress placed by Covid-19 pandemic, says award winning Paediatrician, Dr Jayashree Nadkarni, Professor in Paediatrics, Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal (M.P.).

There are various reasons which trigger Stress in children in recent times. Children are confined to homes and as a consequence physical activity, social interaction with peers is hampered. They are stuck to their TV, computers and mobile phones in their important years of cognitive development, be it for recreational purpose, for online classes or with family. Witnessing quarantine or work from home of parents or children themselves have short as well as long-term effects on behavior and personality. Mounting of parental stress also affects mental health of the children adversely. Improper communication by peers and parents tend to aggravate the situation. Inability to understand the need of restrictions on playing outside, going to amusement parks etc creates unrest in young brains. Although schools have come up with innovative ideas for teaching but technology has its own limitation. Schools are platforms for enhancing communication and social interactions among children and this remains a big deficit in this situation of a‘new normal’.

By following these tips parents and caretakers can alleviate their child’s mental stress placed by the current pandemic.

  1. Talk to them- Talk about what is going on; ask them about their thoughts and feelings. Be there for them when they are upset because you have to cancel their birthday party, or because they can’t see their grandparents. Be a compassionate and safe adult for them. Research shows that this has a very calming effect on kids. Also, this opportunity should be taken to communicate to them the proper use of masks, social distancing and adequate hand hygiene.

  2. Give the children time out from screen-Play indoor games like puzzles, ludo or chess with them or try to inculcate a hobby in them. Free and undirected playing is essential for their emotional well-being, especially in these times. It also has a tremendous impact on their cognitive and social development. Children shouldn’t be forced into any activity and they should be allowed to choose.

  3. Regularize a daily schedule for them- Create a proper schedule for your kid’s daily activities such as a fixed time to wake up and go to bed, along with definite time for meals where the family sits together at the table and no mobile phones or TV should be turned on.

  4. Engage them in setting weekly schedule of your family- Make a weekly schedule with them so they can see what is coming up next. You can also plan one fun and special thing to do together each day that they can look forward to - have a dance party, bake a pizza, or have a pillow fight!

  5. Encourage more and more indoor activities-Do group indoor activities as a family. Help out the children in their studies.

  6. Enhance their physical activeness-Let your children be physically active. Involve them in light exercises including age appropriate household chores. Exercise increases the psychological and physical wellbeing and also reduces stress hormones.

  7. A healthy diet-Provide for them a healthy balanced diet. Avoid foods rich in sugars and preservatives.

  8. Nurture the habit of socializing-Help your children, especially the younger ones, sustain their social life and stay in contact with their friends and grandparents. Let them write letters or draw pictures to send to family, and make phone calls or video calls. They will be happy to see that everything is okay.

  9. Have fun together- Laughing brings joy to both your life and the life of your child. It increases the release of the happiness hormones serotonin and endorphins, which help everyone feel better. Laughing also reduces the production of stress hormones, like adrenalin and cortisol.  So do things that make your children and you happy !

  10. Practice self-reflection as a parent and caretaker- How do you feel? Are you anxious? Stressed? Overstrained? If these feelings are too strong to handle, please seek professional help for yourself. This will also help your children.

It has to be realized that children thrive well in a secure and loving environment devoid of stress and anxiety. Thus all possible measures should be taken at individual, family and community level to safeguard their mental health.


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Mental Wellness

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