It’s been more than a year and this pandemic has changed the whole world. India is battling the second wave and there are sad stories and tragic news now and then. Fear, uncertainty, and staying indoors due to lockdown are surely taking a toll on people’s mental health. But I feel, more than anyone else, it’s the kids who are real heroes who are cooped up inside. It’s important to take care of kids’ mental health in the pandemic.
First and foremost, it is important to make them feel safe. It’s surely not easy for them to stay indoors. On top of that, hearing tragic stories of sickness and death can be traumatic for them. They can also easily pick up on parents’ stress. So, it’s important to make sure that they not only remain physically healthy but mentally healthy too.
The schools across India have been shut for almost a year now. Kids are not able to meet their friends, not able to go out in playgrounds, and are inside the same house with the same people. Adults can control their urge to go out but it’s definitely not easy for younger kids. One of my friends whose kids are just 3 and 6 are throwing tantrums more than normal. I guess that’s one way they can show their frustration. Although older kids do not say it much they are definitely feeling the change and parents need to watch out for any alarming symptoms.
Some ways to take care of kids’ mental health in the pandemic –
- Talk positive – Try not to use the words like depressing, sad, and stressed. Instead, use the language which your kids can understand and also help them to share their feelings. Say things like – It is tough right now but it will soon get over, I know it’s not easy for you but things will be better soon, etc.
- Give them space – Try not to be a nagging parent and avoid scolding for small things. Let them do what they feel like. Give them some space to be on their own for some time every day. I realized with my daughters that it’s important not to be after them all the time to do things. That’s why I try not to constantly blabber things but give them some personal space.
- Family time – Spend some time together playing indoor games, talking about positive things. Try engaging them in some activities like gardening, cooking or baking, etc. at home. Also, make sure not to discuss the current situation too much while talking to them. They should be surely aware of the current situation but they do not need to know about any stats or figures. Also read, not to miss nutrition tips for kids
- Manage your anxiety – Parents getting anxious can lead to kids getting anxious and stressed. So, make sure to manage your anxiety and fears before talking to your child.
- Take care of your mental health – As a parent, I know how it is! It’s not easy to find a balance between what to share, what not to share so that it doesn’t impact them. Also, it’s not easy to manage everything like online classes, making sure they are engaged at other times and staying calm in front of them. Just try to be positive and stay calm. Times are hard, but on the positive side remember that you are getting to spend some quality time with the family.
Everyone is stressed, or clueless about the whole situation right now, and it’s ok for the kids to feel a little overwhelmed. But if you feel that symptoms are too much or notice something that lasts for more than a few days, you can talk to a counselor. Stay safe and stay positive!