“Normalise conversations about feelings and emotions at home.”
While pandemic strain has greatly increased the stresses of adulthood, our children have been remarkably resilient. From being the first few to embrace the mask-dom that fell upon, to being the cheery mood-lifters morning after morning. Sadly, there are also families who have been reporting changes in their children’s mental and emotional health. This knowledge has left many of us wondering how to help our children cope. Even if you aren’t witnessing the negative effects, it’s useful to equip ourselves to empower kids.
Pandemic anxiety is often caused as a result of disruption of one’s typical routine and environment. While here in Singapore, HBL didn’t last long for 2020, COVID19 definitely has altered their curriculum and school activities. All these can add to their anxiety. However, you can combat the psychological effects of Covid-19 on children through counter mental strategies.
1. Sensory Interventions
Firstly, small changes to your child’s environment can help them stay focused on situations where they are expected to be attentive. Sensory interventions like a white noise app, or deep focus music can help keep your child focused and present while studying. In addition, if you have scents at home, lavender is exalted for its extra calming effect.
Visual schedules placed around your child’s space, and reflection journals can help them stay on track as well.
2. Combat the Psychological Effects of Covid-19 on Children: Make Mindfulness Relatable
Teaching young children mindfulness, meditation and breathwork might seem like a daunting task. I was astonished and inspired when I first heard that my son’s school practices ‘mindfulness’ after their mid-day break. I wondered if we could successfully empower our children with these tools which are incredibly useful when it comes to improving focus and relieving stress. While his school still enforces them to commit to the number of minutes of sitting still in silence, I helped him to tune his attention to his body and breath, to understand how these would help him calm his body and mind.
3. Establish Routines
People of all ages benefit from routines. Routines are mental strategies that give kids a sense of security and help them maintain a sense of calm and predictability in their lives.
4. Engage in Mental Strategies Activities Together
As role models, it is important that we take care not to express extreme negativity and fear and try your very best to stay positive, as difficult as that may be at the moment. It is equally important to discuss reality positively. It may be tempting to assure them that everything is going to be well, but this can backfire as it fails to fully address their worries.
If you’re struggling with your own anxiety, make it a priority to set aside time to take care of yourself. Discuss the ways in which they too can express, understand, and manage their feelings. Normalise conversations about feelings and emotions at home. A shared journaling (for parent + for child) session that takes only 5 minutes in a day works wonders.
Know when you need additional help and reach out to your child’s primary care provider who can offer further suggestions for building mental strategies.