Help children TO cope with stress
During the pandemic, requiring children staying at home is one of the measures to limiting the spread of local infections. While it increases the time spent with family, it can also result in insufficient physical activity, irregular sleep patterns, weight gain, and decreased fitness. Besides, boredom and frustration are common during confinement. The lifestyle changes may also contribute to social isolation from their friends and teachers, emerging of anxiety and tension among family members due to a lack of personal space at home.
Under this stressful situations, children become irritated, anxious, angry, agitated or start bedwetting. Respond to them in a supportive way.
Listen attentively to them
Help them find positive and constructive ways of expressing emotions and behaviors without necessarily touching each other (e.g., teach them songs and gestures to say hello to other children from a distance).
Give them extra time and attention.
Creative activities, or example, spend time playing with children or ask them to draw and discuss about the drawing help them to express their negative emotions.
Try to keep routines and schedules.
Make time for learning, as well as create age-appropriate activities for playing and rest.
Explain to them what is going on in a simple way. Tell them if someone in the family might not be feeling well, that they might have to go to the health facility/hospital for some time, so that doctors can help them feel better.
If a child that you are responsible for needs to be separated from you (e.g., prepare hospitalization), keep contact with the child (by following the visiting instructions and schedules, by phone or video calls).
Ensure that you know which is the professional that will do regular follow up him/her at the health facility/hospital.
Support for Parents and Caregivers
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Their change of behaviour may create additional stress to parents or caregivers. Families face an unprecedented situation: working from home with kids without access to support which parents might normally rely on (such as teachers, friends, etc.). Some parents or caregivers may not have enough time to prepare themselves for taking up extra roles in a short time. Flexibility is a key for parents and caregivers during pandemic outbreak.
You might need to adapt some of your usual parenting styles but certainly to stay away from the painful positions on the right hand side here. For example, before the pandemic, you might plan your child’s daily routine with 1-hour watching TV, 1-hour piano practice, go to bed before 9pm, etc. However, during the social distancing, you might need to balance the time for watching TV time, piano practice and even the time going to bed.
The elderly and their caregivers
You probably know that although all age groups are at risk of contracting COVID-19, older people face significant risk of developing severe illness if they contract the disease due to physiological changes that come with ageing and potential underlying health conditions.