CARING FOR CHILDREN DURING THE PANDEMIC
With schools closed in the raging pandemic and many parents seem to experience a situation being at home stuck for more than forty days of lockdown with their kids and still waiting when it would end. True, these were the extreme circumstances with no way to go out; no relief in sight, parents were found thrown into some dramatic situations.
Caring for children, looking after their physical and mental welfare has become one of the toughest jobs for the parents – at the time of coronavirus pandemic has become exponentially challenging. From juggling the demands of working from home, schools closed for extended periods, office closures, and severe restrictions to move out at will; this has become the families’ new normal. It has become not only unsettling but seems inviting a range of unpleasant experiences for many parents.
At these stressful times, one that goes out for a toss is the child’s psychological well-being; as parents themselves under stress, uncertainty in the air, its children who might become quick targets to soak in the stress and anxiety that permeates among the adults at home.
Even for the most self-controlled community of parents, it isn’t easy to navigate parenthood during this devastating pandemic. These trying times are having such a negative impact on the parents that the frequent incidences at homes were yelling, harsh language, stricter rules were heard louder, and have become routine.
How can a parent support their children’s emotional and mental health in this extremely tough pandemic landscape when even as the adults find not able to adjust?
It’s natural for adults to be anxious and worried about these uncertain and stressful times. Still, one needs to be mindful that children can easily get affected by our feelings and stressful situations.
It would be helpful for the children if parents can think of the best coping mechanisms to cushion them emotionally: speaking softly, physical exercises, being warm, supportive and being polite with other family members, mutual sharing of household jobs.
If parents can manage their emotions, control their mood swings so that when they interact with their children, they can present a model showing them how to stay calm, controlled, listen carefully, speak in friendly terms, and be thoughtful in giving agreeable mutual responses. It could be a sure strategy where children can be protected from the emotional vagaries of adults during stressful times.
Parents need to be more flexible, alert to support the kids keeping them at ease during these stressful times. They should plan a daily structure: a schedule at home, so it creates a sense of calm, smooth interactions among all family members.
Regular exercises, meditation, friendly conversations, reading, comedy shows on TV, good documentaries, sharing kitchen chores: its parents who have to plan daily, meticulously, take the lead to implement and help to create a sense of closeness and togetherness among family members. Parents must be gentle and move about at home with grace and caution. The entire plan is to focus on helping children feel safe, comfortable, and loved. Help them plan their daily schedules and plan their day’s work.
Parents have to be cautious to put in place the needed security net; help children to understand how to adjust in the adversity; provide the right mental gear to help themselves navigate the new ‘normal.’
We, the parents, should have them understand the support provided by the adults, giving helpful, protective care for them to build upon their strengths, and create healthy coping skills to survive the long term effects of the pandemic – COVID – 19.