Now more than ever, parents are struggling to look after their children. With everyone stuck inside, schooling going digital and working from home the new normal, anxiety and stress is continuously mounting for parents. These changes to our way of life impact our children’s mental health, but there are steps you can take to help calm their fears and promote positivity.
Keep to a Routine
We’re all used to our old routines of waking up, getting the kids ready for school or daycare, and then heading out to work. But with the pandemic keeping us at home, our day-to-day has been halted. It’s now time to create new routines centred around your home life. Children thrive with structure and familiarity, so start with regular bedtime and morning routines. Then move on to a school day schedule, have them take breaks at the same times and have their lunches as they would at school. This familiar structure will help keep their minds at ease and focused. CTV News has an excellent article that discusses the importance of routines for children and their mental health.
Maintain Social Connections
Social distancing is vital now, but that doesn’t mean your children have to miss out on socializing. Regularly talking with friends or relatives helps to regulate your children’s moods and manages their stress levels. Using the technology available to us, set up skype calls with their friends or regular chats over the phone with their grandparents and other close family members.
Incorporate Physical & Mental Exercise
While it can seem difficult while always at home, it’s important to incorporate new and fun activities into your daily routine as much as possible. Work arts and crafts into your evenings, play board games or go for family bike rides in your downtime. Take their eyes off the screen and get them to use their hands to create, play and explore to promote positive mental health. You can find more information about fun activities at home on the city of Toronto’s website.
Lead With Empathy
Many kids will struggle while in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will have moments where they blow up, have difficulty managing big emotions, and may become distant or demonstrate an increased need for closeness. These feelings can be hard to manage for you and your child, and it will be important to respond with understanding and empathy. By keeping yourself calm during these moments, by practicing mindfulness and other calming strategies, you will be better equipped to respond and assist in regulating kids’ emotions.
Get Help When You Need It
COVID-19 and its lockdown restrictions take a toll on everyone’s mental health, including your children. As we’ve shown above, there are ways to help at home, but there may be times when more help is needed. At York Hills, we specialize in providing mental health services to children and their families and are ready to help provide the care people need in difficult times. Take a look at our services to learn more about how we can help, or feel free to contact us now with any questions you have.
By Adam Bianco