“Child: Mamma, I am bored, I want to play with you.
Mamma: I am busy with a call, ask your dad, please.
Child: But I am bored.
Dad: Tony, please play with your new jenga blocks I got you last month. Can’t you see we all are stuck inside; we have so many errands to run.
How many of you can relate to this situation?
Is your child getting more defiant, repetitive, clingy or snappy than he/she usually is?
Is sibling quarrel more often now?
Are they more demanding?
The constant buzz around covid-19 could disturb the mental health of millions of housebound children. Let’s reflect on what can be the reasons?
- Parents are unknowingly ignoring their child’s emotional wellbeing because they themselves are snowed under household chores due to unavailability of house helps.
- Adults have a lot of “work to do”, but children are doing the same mundane stuff.
- An adult can talk to another adult and vent out their frustration, but our children are missing friends of their age? After all, parents are not always their “friends”.
- Children are missing those fulfilled school bus trips, playdates & sleep-overs, munching cookies during extra classes, outdoor play areas and eat-outs. This is their normal life and it’s snatched away from them.
- And the saddest part is that we adults are equally stressed and overwhelmed, and we expect our children to behave properly, ignoring the fact that children are often the first to respond negatively to any strain on the family.
The pandemic situation has resulted in loss of predictability, loss of routine, loss of classroom learning, and loss of exposure to space. This in turn has led to anxiety, fear, restlessness and confusion among our children.
What to do now?
1. Time to let go: – Give that extra screen time to your child, let him/her have one extra cookie today, sometimes junk food can be a great stress buster. Lockdown is a temporary arrangement; we can get back to our schedule again, in the meanwhile, just LET IT BE. Handling stress and managing ‘self’ too is a huge task for a child, it’s okay to let your child just do nothing and lie around.
2. Watch your emotional temperament: Children are perceptive, and they’re going to take it in if you keep complaining on the phone to a friend that you can’t handle this self-isolation anymore. So checking in with your emotions and making sure you’re dealing with them in a healthy way will be the first preventative step towards eliminating lots of your child’s stress.
3. Limit conversation on Covid-19 around your child: We need to avoid obsessing about endless coronavirus coverage in front of our children. The more we discuss the more panic we create.
4. Time for honest answers and lesser preaching: It’s incredibly critical for parents to be honest in their communication, to not lie about how serious this is. Realistic expectations should be set.
5. Positive and constructive engagement: It has now been discussed worldwide how we can utilise this lockdown phase and teach new skills/activities to our kids. Keep them engaged as much as you can and participate as family in household work. It can be made into a fun activity and involve our children as a helping hand where you can. And it’s absolutely alright also to let it be and not stress over teaching something new.
6. Give yourself a break: Yes, it is very important for parents to take care of their mental and physical health. It can be a quick 10 mins “me time” at the balcony or some deep breathing in peace. If parents want to be able to model resiliency and strength for your kids, they have to take care of themselves.
All our kids now need is reassurance. Let’s respect their anxiety and fear, and encourage them to be more expressive. Let them know that
“Come what may be, we are always there for you.”