The trend of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has decreased in May. And the school year 2020-2021 is also coming to an end. As such, things may be starting to look up for kids since they’re getting a school break. Kids may get excited about summer vacation. But they might still not be able to do the “normal” summer activities they used to do before the pandemic.
Frankly, the situation now isn’t too different from the past year. Kids still can’t go out whenever they want to or visit all the places they want to see. Despite the decreasing cases in the U.S., the numbers are still high.
Hearing these things on the news may stress kids out. The limited access to the outside world and the constant exposure to screens during classes can also add to their stress. As such, parents must do whatever they can to help their children cope with the current situation and improve their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Below is a list of things that parents can do to support their children during these trying times.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
When kids express fear regarding the pandemic, parents shouldn’t brush things off. Instead, parents should acknowledge these feelings and help children process them. For example, if children ask questions about the pandemic, parents should be ready to answer them.
It’s okay to be honest about the situation. But it’s also important that parents give their children a sense of assurance. For example, parents can remind their kids to observe proper hygiene to be safe from the virus. Parents should also explain what they are doing to ensure the safety of their kids (e.g. why kids aren’t allowed outside for a long time).
Maintain a Healthy Routine
Parents need to establish a daily structure or routine for their kids. It will help them keep busy during the day while still staying healthy.
First, parents should ensure that their kids get enough sleep. It will help them improve their physical health and ability to focus on their tasks during the day. Getting adequate hours of sleep will also help improve kids’ moods. The number of hours needed depends on age. For instance, school-aged kids need around nine hours of sleep.
Part of ensuring that kids get enough sleep is restricting their exposure to screens, especially during the evening. The blue light emitted from screens blocks melatonin and will make sleep more elusive to kids. They should not be allowed to use their phones and other handheld gadgets at least 30 minutes before their bedtime.
Another part of maintaining a healthy routine is getting a routine checkup regularly. It will help parents better understand the state of their children’s health so that they can make the necessary lifestyle changes. Ideally, school-aged kids should go for a routine checkup once a year. Meanwhile, they should go to a dentist for kids every six months.
Physical exercise is an effective way to relieve stress, even for kids. It helps with the production of endorphins, one of the happy hormones. Thus, parents should ensure that their children stay physically active, especially during the summer while they’re on break.
Children can go out for a walk during the morning or the afternoon. They can also ride their bikes around the neighborhood. The entire family can also play together in the backyard, such as hide-and-seek or tag.
One non-conventional way to exercise is to do household chores. For instance, picking up laundry and putting them in the washer can help kids build their muscles. This form of exercise also comes with other benefits. Doing household chores will teach kids responsibility. It will also help improve their self-esteem since these chores teach them valuable life skills.
But it’s not easy to make children do chores at home. In this case, parents can offer rewards, such as a longer gadget time.
Engage in Creative Activities
Parents can make their kids do arts and crafts when they feel emotional. Creative activities can become a distraction. They can also help children relieve stress or process their emotions through art. As a bonus, these activities can also improve kids’ imagination and creativity, which will help them in school.
Some creative activities to try are drawing, coloring books, painting, playing a musical instrument, and many more.
Parents must support their children when they are overcome by pandemic stress. Parents can implement simple strategies. And in the process, the parents themselves may also relieve some of their stress, knowing that their kids are able to cope with the current situation.