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While children may appear to be frolicking - what with schools being closed and them spending time at home - with so much panic all around, like adults, it is natural for them to have anxieties and queries too. They may be experiencing feelings of confusion, loss and helplessness due to lack of predictability, playground time and regular interaction with friends, teachers and peers. This can affect their mood, energy levels and willingness to participate in usual activities. Sometimes in these situations, children may not obey their parents. This, in turn, can lead to conflict between parents and children.

Undoubtedly, it is a challenging time for parents as they need to strike a balance between household chores, work from home, managing children and family. Additionally, with ongoing uncertainties and concerns about the future, the stress levels are quite high - this can reflect in our interactions with our children. Here are some ways in which parents can support their children during this period.

1. Go easy on yourself and your kids: It is important to acknowledge the challenges in the current situation and accept the presence of emotional vulnerabilities that are being experienced by everyone, including children. Go easy on yourself. Give yourself and your children, the time and space to slowly pace into this transition.

2. Be open to having a conversation with your child: Show openness to discuss the issue. Initiate the dialogue with your child even if they do not come to you with their questions. You can begin with an open-ended question like “I am sure you have been noticing a lot of changes lately. Is there something you would like to ask, share or talk about?” Give them a safe space to express themselves. This would bring a feeling of security and reassurance in them.

3. Find an outlet for your emotions: Even with the best of intentions, unknowingly, we may be transferring our anxieties on to our children. Acknowledge your emotions of fear, panic and anxiety. It is natural to experience waves of emotions in uncertain situations. Yet it is important to not let them grow. Engage in emotion regulation practices like breathing exercises, physical exercise, music, reading or spending time nurturing your greens at home. Additionally, stick to an authentic source for the news, and each time you feel vulnerable, just ask yourself: “What can I do to feel better?” You are your child’s secure base. To build emotional resilience in your children, encourage them to maintain a journal, draw, paint, play more and write letters to their friends.

4. Be engaged while spending time with them: Make a conscious effort to spend more time to listen to their stories and share yours. Show them you're involved and curious during playtime or while talking to them. Find creative avenues that can engage their attention, as children enjoy when they experience novelty in a task like arts and crafts. Also encourage their participation in household chores of their choice like baking, setting the table. It gives both a sense of purpose and the opportunity to experience joy in small mundane tasks.

5. Maintain a problem-solving attitude: Avoid getting overly stressed and anxious about ongoing and upcoming challenges. Focus on the things that are in your control and find a resolution to the problem at hand. It showcases adaptability to the situation by being aware, accepting and exercising control over the things that you recognise you can. In tasks concerning your child, involve them in the process equally. Collaborate with them on resolving an issue by asking “What do you think we can do here? Do you have any thoughts or ideas on this?”

6. Be predictable and flexible in your expectations: Children respond well to predictability and consistency. Knowing clearly what to expect and what is expected of them, can give them a sense of security and comfort that helps them operate better. Create a flexible routine for them and alternate between structured and unstructured play. Reinforce them positively when they show adaptive behaviours, and learn to ignore minor issues. Even if you keep their screen time parallel with your meeting or work calls, you may still expect an increase in screen time. It is very important to choose your battles and refrain from setting rigid disciplinary standards for everything. More quantitative time together can potentially lead to an increase in instructions or lectures. Be mindful of such reflexes. Flexibility is the key for smooth and healthy functioning.

7. Help them connect with their friends digitally: Encourage your children to check on their friends. It is natural for them to miss their routine at school, playing with their peers and friends. Help them connect with their friends and classmates digitally or set up a call with a teacher they would like to interact with. It is time to make wise positive use of our digital world.

While juggling multiple roles and tasks in the ongoing period, what is most essential as a parent is to take care of your emotional needs. Your mental well-being will also define and frame the well-being of your children. Focus on your self-care and keep the atmosphere of playfulness and laughter alive at home. Nurture the ability to adapt, connect and live in the present to gain the resilience we all need in uncertain times.

Read more: COVID-19: Prevention and care tips for parents of young children

  1. Doctors for How to help your children cope during a pandemic
Dr. Ankit Gupta

Dr. Ankit Gupta

Psychiatry
10 Years of Experience

Dr. Anil Kumar Kumawat

Dr. Anil Kumar Kumawat

Psychiatry
5 Years of Experience

Dr. Dharamdeep Singh

Dr. Dharamdeep Singh

Psychiatry
6 Years of Experience

Dr. Ajay Kumar...

Dr. Ajay Kumar...

Psychiatry
14 Years of Experience

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AlzumabAlzumab Injection5760.72
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Proctosedyl BdPROCTOSEDYL BD CREAM 15GM54.6
ProctosedylPROCTOSEDYL 10GM OINTMENT 10GM49.7
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