By Dr. Carrier Kinsley
For all of us, social distancing is a temporary fact of life. School is now online. Stress and worries are prevalent, and our routines are disrupted. During this trying time, there are many things parents can do to help keep their children healthy in addition to following state and federal guidelines to avoid catching Covid-19.
Keep regular schedules
Sleeping and eating schedules should be regular and reasonable. Staying up too late and sleeping late in the day is so disruptive to kids’ sleep schedules and can affect their health and their mood. Keep schedules regular, even if the schedules are a little more relaxed, maintaining regular sleep and eating schedules is very important for us all especially children and teens. In addition, make sure children drink enough water and other fluids and eat a reasonably balanced diet. This will help them feel better and help to protect their immune system.
Create a daytime schedule
For school-aged children figuring out when schoolwork should be done when exercise chores and leisure activities should be fit it can help your school-aged children and teens feel more productive and motivated.
Include daily exercise
Exercise can help lessen feelings of depression, isolation, and sadness. Spending time outdoors when the weather cooperates can be especially beneficial to one’s mood.
Encourage social interaction with others
Especially for school-age children and teens. Use technology to have your kids talk with friends and family via telephone and video chats to help limit feelings of isolation.
Talk about kid’s feelings with them
Be sure to acknowledge the loss and disappointment they may be feeling regarding missing school, activities, and special events as well as any tragedies that may affect them. These feelings can be quite impactful and can have a significant emotional impact. In addition, many children are anxious and scared about getting sick, their loved ones getting sick, or about what the future holds. Talking about their feelings can help them process their emotions in a healthy way. Consider setting up a counseling appointment if needed if you feel your child or teen is not coping well or is struggling with depression or anxiety.
Limit news exposure
Setting a limit on the amount of new exposure in the household can help to limit household anxiety. Some news exposure and discussion of the current situation is appropriate and appreciated by children, but 24/7 news exposure is not healthy for anyone, especially kids. In addition, try not to pass your worries and fears on to your children. It is natural to feel anxious and scared during these uncertain times. However, too much anxiety in a parent can make a child feel more scared and uncertain than is necessary. Please try to help your children appreciate the positive aspects of having more time with the family, having more free time, etc. and reassure them that this is temporary, and everything will be ok. This can be an experience that can help children to gain resilience and strength and may help them learn to nurture a positive attitude even when things don’t go as planned.