Mental health tips for children in lockdown: A guideline for caregivers/parents.

-Neha Vishwakarma and -Abhijeet Dhurve


Due to this lockdown, a lot has changed, we hear different stories. I have heard people saying that they are able to manage their work and time for their families easily. They are learning new things which include cooking, dancing, playing, yoga, etc. also, making time for their old hobbies. Some people are facing challenges to work from home, and some have no work, creating spaces for boredom which makes them feel irritated, they get anxious which makes it difficult for them to stay home. Many of them are also finding ways to keep themselves engaged in some or other activities.

Some people have shared that their children are crying as they do not get a chance to go down and play with their friends. They also shared that children are investing more time on mobile phones. Some parents also shared that they have been getting enough time to spend with their children and family.

This lockdown due to COVID -19 may bring new sorts of challenges for the parents/caregivers when it comes to their children due to time availability, the unpreparedness of situation and lack of available resource to engage, challenges such as 

  • Aggression/irritation among kids, 
  • Extensive use of cell phones, 
  • Extensive engagement with social media, 
  • Exploration on internet, 
  • Stay awake till late night, 
  • Excessive worry or sadness, 
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain 
  • and anxiety seeing news and posts around COVID -19.  

Recently, when I was watching the television, there was news about the hospital conditions in Mumbai, lack of resources available such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ventilators, mask, etc and how the doctors were getting affected by the Coronavirus and similar information I got through posts on social media, the tension was so intense that when I fell sick, I started thinking if I am infected by COVID19  how I will manage, the conditions are not good in the hospitals, I am not ready to face all of this because of such thoughts my blood pressure went down, I went to the clinic and it was just acidity, but due to excess exposure to information, I became extremely tensed. In this situation, my father and brother reacted very calmly whereas my mother and grandmother were a bit tense, my father’s calmness helped me control my emotions.  

When parents and caregivers deal with lockdown and challenges related to it calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.

There are many things you can do to support your child, we are listing some of there here for you;

  • Take time to talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak, how it is making them feel and what information they are receiving about the outbreak and how they are processing it and ask them how you can support them to process the same. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand. Apart from COVID-19, you can also talk about their experiences of being at different places, memories that they hold close to them, talk about their performance in studies, challenges, and best practices they follow, about their friends and memories with them.
  • Reassure to your child that they are safe, let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you are feeling about the outbreak or about information coming to you and how you are dealing with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope with you. Some of the things you can do to manage your stress are draw and paint things, write things in your book, watch movies/comedy shows, cook food, listen to the music and take proper rest. I am adding the link of more resource created by Apni Shala team members for you to think & see more options

 Tips for self and collective care while in lockdown

  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand. Parent’s/caregivers can create a safe space where the child can come and share what they want to know about the situation at hand. Additionally bring alternatives to the limitations you put on media exposure like suggest them to watch comedy shows, movies, series, to play indoor games if resources are available, and ask them to support you in household chores.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines: Now that the schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities, you can explore this on the internet and on youtube. There are learning apps if that is accessible to you, you can use them. If you have limited access to the internet then you spend time reading books, Keep time aside everyday for breathing exercises, meditation, play indoor games, have conversations with your family members.
  • Be a role model: Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members. It will create the possibility for your children to see different things they can do to keep themselves mentally and physically engaged and healthy. 

References:

Families | COVID-19 Outbreak | Health & Senior Services health.mo.gov

outbreak_factsheet_1.pdf  http://www.nctsn.org

Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks | SAMHSA Publications and Digital Products store.samhsa.gov

About the author:

Neha Vishwakarma: has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Mumbai University and has also working experience with children. She works at Apni Shala as a Fellow. When Neha is not working you will find her making new dishes, dancing, singing, and roaming out with her close people. 

Abhijeet Dhurve: has completed his Master’ Degree in community organization and development practice (MSW) from the Tata Institute Of Social Science. He has been in the field of social work since 2011. He works at Apni Shala as a Program Coordinator managing partnerships and Advocacy. When Abhijeet is not working he is busy playing cricket or traveling to the places.

Loved reading this piece? At Apni Shala, we are committed to bringing you more SEL-aligned resources during this pandemic. Our work is dependent on generous donations from our supporters. If you found this useful, make a donation here: I would love to donate to Apni Shala.

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