As the number of coronavirus cases are spiking across the globe, people are being driven into isolation due to the lockdown. Pandemic isolation has been hard on all of us as humans are social beings but it is proving to be much more difficult for children than for adults as the former were already constantly trying to regulate their feelings in general.
The pandemic has been the biggest change that any of us could ever imagine. Even people who have never had any history of mental health issues are finding it difficult to cope during these times; we can only imagine what a child might be going through internally. Hence, parents need to be cautious in their way of handling and dealing with them.
Children can experience worry, anxiety and fear due to the drastic changes that have taken place in their social interaction. This can have an adverse effect on their socio-cultural development. It is therefore important for parents to primarily focus on keeping the child engaged to cope with anxiety or stress and help them connect with their peers through digital platforms. On one hand, where exposure to digital media needs to be restricted, these times have made the digital world one of the most important platforms to stay connected with our close ones, providing a comforting place for all of us.
Parents need to be careful in their way of introducing or exposing children to the digital world and social media platforms. One can creatively arrange play-dates with peers by doing crafts, creating simple recipes together or by playing games; learning a new skill can also make the exposure to the digital world a worthwhile experience for the child.
Due to the restrictions regarding going to school and being with friends, children have somewhere lost their sense of structure – this can cause disruption in their mental well-being as the environment in the school is supportive and trustful for them. At this stage, it becomes important for parents to keep the channel of friends active in the lives of their children. They need to be equipped with the confidence and yet also be illustrated about the situation outside in the simplest way possible, so that they feel that it to be manageable, helping them cope in a better way.
Being active during the lockdown period is also important to maintain a healthy state of mind in children. Hence the activities that are chosen should have key takeaways or learning objectives. One of the ways of ensuring such productivity could be by asking them to maintain a diary for writing down all the things they have learned from the various activities they partook in per day. Journaling also imbibes a sense of control so children would feel responsible for their actions during this time.
All planned activities need to come from a space of mental stimulation and should benefit the child emotionally and socially. From virtual events to online play dates with peers to texting and video calling, along with social media engagements – all are a part of the new normal and have become primary for the mental well-being and proper growth of children.
For children, family and friends is a cohesive unit that significantly aids their development physically, mentally, socially and emotionally in each stage of their lives. Connecting with friends, family members and relatives such as grandparents help children maintain a sense of connection and unity; this also helps in building their social skills as this is the period to spend time and connect with children. Simply being with them, spending quality time and listening to them will help you understand their feelings, thoughts and behaviour better; this is significant as it results in invalidating their feelings. Feelings are important and it is really important to have someone to share them. It’s not an easy time for any of us hence working as a team in the family can help your child develop better coping mechanisms and reduce stress levels.
Communication is the doorway to their life. So keep that channel open and let them express a plethora of experiences through it. This helps in controlling the trauma effect of the pandemic as parents can help children process experiences better and get to know the exact feelings or emotions that they are going through.
Some common online activities to engage in could be:
- Video calling family members and friends
- Organising a family cooking session by watching recipes online
- Playing online board games with friends and relatives
- Working out together with the help of online sessions available
All these activities can help children maintain a link with the outside world and be social beings fostering emotional, social and mental growth even during the on-going pandemic.