Expert tips: How to help your children during the COVID-19 pandemic
We spoke to a clinical psychologist for tips on how parents can help their children during these difficult times.
While some kids may like the idea of not having to take the final exams or even attend classes, they’re bound to pick up on the worry and anxiety their parents and grandparents may be feeling now.
Most children's routine has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and this may cause them to act out or feel confused.
We spoke to Dr Mimansa Singh Tanwar, Clinical Psychologist at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, for tips on how parents can help their children during these difficult times. Edited excerpts:
1. Go easy on them
The situation right now deserves a few allowances. It’s okay to not be okay - accept all the emotions you’re feeling during this time before trying to help your kids. Go easy on yourself as well as your kids. These are challenging times - it’s okay to take some time to adjust.
2. Be engaged
Even if they seem okay, they might not be. So check in with them from time to time and ask how they’re coping with the changes. Assure them that their feelings — whether they’re sad, worried or irritated — are all valid. Also, try to keep them engaged while they’re home by talking to them, planning family activities or even taking their help with small household chores like setting the table. Be present mentally whenever you’re spending time with them.
3. Have flexible expectations
You can help your children feel secure and comfortable by creating a new routine for them. Share what is expected of them and when. Reward them when they adapt to the new routine. There may be minor problems - like more time spent on the television than you would like - but try and ignore this to an extent. You have to pick your battles during this time or you would end up reprimanding them too often. Instead, try and understand if they’re facing any issues with the routine and adapt it accordingly.
4. Help them express and connect
For a new routine - one that keeps them indoors for prolonged periods - you’ll have to be very creative. Encourage activities like drawing, painting or journaling to help build emotional resilience. Suggest ideas they might not have thought of, like writing a letter to their friends. It may be a default reaction to scold them if they talk on the phone too much but, during this time, encourage them to check in on their friends, cousins and even teachers if they really miss them.
For more information, read our article on How to help your children cope during a pandemic.
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