12 May Social Emotional Health during COVID-19
Maintaining good Social-Emotional health is very important not only for adults but also for children during this outbreak of COVID-19. Fear and anxiety about the disease has crept into everyone’s minds and need avenues to express these strong emotions, especially to little minds. Children are more emotionally vulnerable to the events that disrupt their daily routine as compared to adults. Proper care and a positive relationship with adults help them develop trust, empathy, and compassion during this time.
The spread of the virus has taken away the child’s school experience. Kids are missing their school, teachers, friends, and a sense of togetherness. Many parents are taking the role of a teacher during this school closure. One has to keep in mind that children continue to grow and develop and learn through their new life experiences. It provides a great opportunity for the parents to foster social-emotional learning with them.
Ways to Help Children
Be a role model
Children react differently to scenarios depending on their background and the community they live in. They mostly imitate the adults they see around them. If the parents and/or caregivers dealing with the situation (COVID-19) calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support to their children.
Talk to your child
Talk to your child about the disease and virus in a way they will understand. They often rely on their imagination and can develop anxiety if they don’t comprehend the situation. Be available to answer their questions and assure them that they are safe. Take every opportunity to connect with them by playing with them and spending time with them.
Keep up with routines
As schools are off, it is very natural to go off task easily. Children look forward to a consistent routine. Create a routine for learning, fun activities, and relaxation. Stick to the same routine each day as it develops predictability.
Engage them in activities
Children often misbehave because of boredom. Recognize the activities they love and keep them busy as much as possible. Art activities, gardening, walking in the neighborhood, reading to them, outside play, modeling with clay, and music and movements are some of the activities you can incorporate to keep their young minds busy.
Make ways to the emotional expressions
Everyday life has changed for many and children may struggle with significant adjustments of routine. This can build up anxiety and children need to express their emotions to cope up with the uncertainty. According to Erlanger Turner from US News, “Being stuck inside for a long period of time can lead to developing a “short temper” or poor expression of emotions.” Make ways for the children to express their emotions. Encourage them to use words to express themselves. Hear them out and show empathy towards them. In return express your own emotions to your children to develop familiar ideas to set a positive example.
Connect with family and friends virtually
Encourage your children to stay connected with their loved ones through phone calls, video calls, facetime, or video conferences. Talk to your loved ones or the people you trust. Allow the children to express their feelings and ask others about their well being. This gives them an opportunity to understand the emotions and feelings of others as they are facing the same situation.
Remember, this is an unpredictable time that will pass. Everyone needs to manage their stress, worry, or sadness by expressing it in an appropriate way. Be a model to your child, hear them out, and be there for them to build a trustworthy relationship with them. This helps them to regulate their emotions and build healthy bonds with family, friends, and the community around them.