How can Parents Support Emotional Health of their Children?

 Another Academic Year and children are yet not going to school!

Another academic year and children are yet not going to school.  We must acknowledge that this year it is tougher than the previous year so we all must be doing our best to keep our children emotionally stronger and help them build resilience. Of course, academic learning of our children is on the back foot but we educators and parents can support them in learning Life- skills; courage, resilience, empathy, compassion, kindness, reaching out, humanity...all values so essential for the survival. Let us look at this tough time as a mandatory class planned for all of us by Nature so let us support our children in growing emotionally stronger and resilient!

So what can we do as parents?

Understand that children are the worst impacted. Their routines and schedules are all disrupted. Though many schools are taking classes online yet no digital mode can take the place of face to face interactions. The children are missing their friends, their meals together, their pranks, their sports, their hobby classes...everything that made their lives full of life. So be  compassionate. Involve them in home chores with you. Listen to them. Engage them in physical activities. Let them connect digitally with their friends. Promote reading and writing. Promote some activity. Above all, build on through your faith and conviction that This too shall pass!

Though this blog was written last year when we all faced the Lockdown first time and experienced its vagaries most of it is still valid, perhaps more than the last year, so sharing again.



Maya Angelou

Emotional Health Status of Our Children during Locked Down Period!

How to Take Care!

Tough Times Indeed!! So long unexpected vacation for children due to lock down has made parents anxious as to how to keep their children constructively engaged. Everybody around is so concerned about academic loss that nobody is ever giving it a thought as to how is this lock down impacting the mental and emotional status of our children, especially teenagers. Is there something that we as parents can do to keep our children emotionally strong? The most visible impacts on children’s lives have been:

1.   Complete breakdown of their structured routine:  Getting up on time, getting ready for school, going to school, studying, playing, participating in sports and co curricular activities, talking and sharing with friends, after school home work, hobby class, watching T.V., playing etc. Practically everything has gone haywire. Their daily schedule kept them going through the day in a constructive manner. This breakdown is triggering emotional stress for children.

2. Confusion to understand the impact of this pandemic: With all news channels, newspapers and news feed practically fed with depressing state of affairs is adding to the confusion. The children are not able to understand the long term academic, social and economic impacts of the situation until somebody really talks sense to them. So much of the regular information pouring from all sources is adding to the confusion and emotional stress.

3.   Non fulfillment of the need of Social connectedness: Our teens, whose need of social connectivity is at all times high during their transformation period, are feeling isolated and lonely. With no friends around to share their concerns, to talk of their confusions, they are actually prone to high anxiety levels because they can understand only a bit of the impacts and are scared of them.
So, what we can do as parents to bring back a little normalcy in their lives at this tough time is that as parents first of all we have to understand the situation and acknowledge it. YESS.. It is real time and may be will last a little longer and I sure can take lead to ease out my child’s anxieties.

I am sharing few tips which you can customize as per your children’s age and concern and help them spend a stress free time.

1. Create a daily structure or schedule for your child: A structured day gives a direction to yours and your children’s lives. Try creating one taking your child’s active involvement to its making. Taking children on board has more chances of getting it followed rather than one imposed on them. Ensure that you have incorporated various aspects of your child’s life in to it; from reading, writing, playing, watching T.V., pursuing some hobby, having free time for the self, helping around at home, talking and sharing with their friends etc.

2.  Get your children involved into Physical Activities: A part of daily structure must have some physical activities, exercises, walking, jogging, running ..whatever is permitted by the available space of your home. Engage your children in home tasks, like doing laundry, drying laundry, folding and stacking of clothes, laying out table, cleaning dishes, chopping vegetables, dusting and any other home chore as per their age and physical capacity.

This has double benefits; one participating in physical activities releases happy hormones and keeps the mood and feeling upbeat. Two, it reduces your workload too. The only caution you have to observe is that you must not aim for perfection. Accept and appreciate whatever the children are able to contribute.

3.  Promote Reading, Writing and Watching T.V.: Though a good number of schools have started taking online classes and giving assignments, you must keep this in mind that despite their appreciable efforts, they won’t be able to provide a full day structure to your child’s day. You have to assume this responsibility at least for the time being.
So in the time allotted to academics, promote Reading for Fun. If you don’t have enough books at home, remember much content is available online. Read together and have dialogue on what you read. Ask questions, give twist to the story, create alternate endings and so on.

The same way watch few programmes together as per your children’s interest and what you wish them to be exposed to. Have a dialogue as to - which character they liked and why? If they had choice which character would they love to play? Which quality would they love to change in their favourite character and why?

Promote writing for fun and for preserving memories. Try keeping a Writing Journal in which anybody can put something in writing at different times of life. Right now during Corona times promote writing on their fears, their concerns, their hopes and despair, do they miss school or their friends? Not only children, anybody at home can add to the journal.

This all will benefit in many ways: just a little active involvement from your side will establish reading as a habit especially in young children. Writing and expressions get a streak of creativity and stores memories for future. The most important benefit will be a vent out of their feelings which will help them keep emotionally stable and strong.

4.  Allow some time on digital platforms and promote online courses to your teens: Remember the teenagers have high need for social connectivity. Though it is tough for parents to keep the teenagers off the social media sites; Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram during normal circumstances, yet during this crisis allow them some time on social media to connect with their friends and cousins. This will fulfill their need of social connectedness.

These are the times to practice social distancing which practically means physical distancing. Let us choose to stay connected lest it should convert into emotional distancing. Ensure to be a little cautious. Just observe and monitor; who they are talking to, what kind of interactions are going on and ensure they are not being cyber bullied.

5.   Promote Artistic Art Forms and Skills: Let your children play around with creativity. Promote storytelling, dance, drama, mimicry etc; whatever pleases them. Let them try their hands on skills like drawing and painting, henna(mehndi) designing, embroidery, knitting and stitching, cooking and baking etc.

For your young children, just take the lead. They are by nature curious to imitate, so whatever you wish them to be exposed to, try doing that yourself. And for your teens, if they show interest in learning or practicing some art forms or skills, just provide your whole hearted support and create conducive environment at home. Just be careful in no case to make small of their efforts.

The only caution is to not expect perfection from them. Our aim right now is to engage them constructively.

6.   Relax and Play Fun Games: Remember in your zealousness to create a structured day for your child, you must not forget relaxation and pure fun. Promote board games, strategic games, fun games, tongue twisters, riddles and dodging tables. Let the children have leisure time. That is when the new ideas breed.

7.  Choose to answer correctly: Last but not the least, when asked as to the impacts of this pandemic by your children, choose to answer courageously. Tell them the impacts as per their age and understanding level. Share with them the massive efforts being made, the precautions that all of us have to follow. This helps them to assess the situation at their level and alleviate their fears.

This is how I believe, if we can engage our children; this locked down time will prove to be one of those times in their memories that has helped them to grow emotionally strong and develop a new outlook for life.

Tough times do not last but tough people do!!  

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  1. Very insightful article.

  2. Thank you dear Anonymous!
    I am sure when applied, these insights will help any parent to do justice to the cause of growing kids at home along with enjoying the peace of mind.

    Enjoy Happy Parenting!


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