It’s been more than half a month since stay-at-home orders have been issued across the world because of the recent pandemic. Now, different countries, including Singapore, are easing their lockdown restrictions to boost their economies. However, it’s still not safe to go outside. Singapore still has more than 50,000 COVID-19 cases. Plus, a vaccine still hasn’t been created.
You and your family will be stuck at home for at least a few months more. Apart from having to do their schoolwork at home, your kids might be sad that they can’t go to their favourite places to eat or hang out with their friends. These problems seem simple, but they can have serious and long-lasting effects on your child’s mental health.
The Effect of the Pandemic on Your Kids’ Mental Health
Kids feel more anxious and stressed during this pandemic because they feel like the situation is out of their control, psychologist Mary Alvord stated in a TIME Magazine Interview. Plus, there’s always that worry of them or their loved ones getting sick. It’s not just a feeling, too.
A group of researchers surveyed the mental health status of over 2,330 kids in home confinement during the COVID-19 outbreak in the Hubei Province, the supposed epicentre of the pandemic. They found that for about a month of spending time in lockdown, over 22.6% of the respondents reported having symptoms of depression. Almost 20% of them also experienced anxiety.
The study showed that symptoms showed up for students after just a month of being in lockdown. Your children have probably been stuck at home for more than half a year. And it’s your job as a parent to help them cope with the pandemic. Here are ways to do it.
Provide Important Facts About the Situation
Your kids might not fully understand why they can’t go out to their favourite mall, go to school, or have their friends over. The less they understand, the more they’re likely to act out or feel sad. Tell them the facts, like the symptoms and complications of COVID-19 and how it’s spread, calmly. Here are some talking points to go over:
- COVID-19 is a very new virus and scientists are still working to create a solution for it
- The virus’ effects depend on the person. Some people don’t feel sick at all. There are some that only get a fever or cough. Others experience more serious problems like difficulty breathing, but they’re just a small group of people.
- You need to minimize your time outside so that you don’t end up getting the virus from others and possibly spread it to more people.
- Just because you get sick, doesn’t mean you already have COVID-19, especially if you haven’t been outside. You can get sick from a variety of germs and the adults will always be there to help you out.
Shield Them from Sensationalist and Fake News
News about the pandemic is everywhere. It’s on TV, YouTube channels, news websites and social media. Your kid may be too young to discern which information to believe. Stories about rising COVID-19 cases and people suffering from severe symptoms scare them and make them really anxious. Plus, rumours about homemade cures cause them to follow potentially harmful instructions.
Prevent these issues by doing your own research from reliable sources like government websites, trusted news outlets and research papers. Answer your kids’ questions about COVID-19 using the information you gathered. If possible, limit your kids’ access to news websites and social media. Tell them to verify the information they see online with you, too.
Provide Reassurance and Support
During these trying times, it’s important to tell your kids that it’s going to be okay eventually. Doctors and scientists are working hard to come up with a solution. And while it’s important to be a source of strength, it’s also vital to show that you’re as sad and as angry as them about the current situation. Be open with your feelings and do your best to relate with your kid.
Have Them Connect With Friends Online
Playdates won’t be possible in the coming months. But it doesn’t mean that your child can’t connect with their friends. Talk with their parents and arrange a Zoom, Messenger, or Skype call. Do fun activities like show-and-tell, I Spy, charades, reading children’s books to each other, and more.
The recent pandemic doesn’t just affect your kid’s physical health, it also takes a toll on their mental health. Being stuck at home for months on end can make anyone stressed and anxious. Use these suggestions to help them cope with the stress and anxiety that comes with this new normal.