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Caring for Children During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Published on Apr 27, 2020 and last reviewed on Mar 10, 2022   -  4 min read


The COVID-19 pandemic has made most children confined to their homes with no friends to interact with. Read how it can affect their emotional and mental state, and how to help them.

Caring for Children During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, most children are confined to their homes with no friends to interact with. Schools are closed as well as entertainment centers. These factors can have a negative impact on the emotional and mental well-being of children. Therefore, they require extra care and attention during this time. This article focuses on these issues and how to tackle them during the global lockdown.

Working from home might have been bliss to some people, as they are finally able to work and spend time with their families. Although there is nothing more pleasant than being around your children, this is undoubtedly a time of distress that affects the mental health of children as well. Schools are closed, children are not able to hang out with their friends or play with them. Many are even confined within closed apartments with no sunlight and fresh air. It not only affects their study schedule but also causes sleep troubles and mood swings. All these triggers lead to stress and anxiety in children, which ultimately affects the parents too.

Things can get pretty nasty when personal and professional life gets mixed up, and it only adds to the pressure when you have an online meeting, a deadline approaching, and a crying kid all staring in your face. Having so much to deal with might result in emotional outbursts, anger, shouting, or even physical beating to the children. The rates of physical abuse and domestic violence have risen throughout the world during the lockdown. Hence it is vital to handle this pressure positively. There are reports of children experiencing more stress and anxiety during this global pandemic, as they see everyone wearing protective gear (gloves, masks), practicing physical distancing, even amongst family members, all these changes can stir emotions of fear in their delicate minds. To address this issue, we need to make sure the child is not experiencing stress, and if he or she is, it needs to be tackled appropriately to ensure positive mental health.

Recognizing signs of distress is the pivotal step for its alleviation. Although it needs to be diagnosed by a child psychologist under normal circumstances, as the whole world is under a movement, we can look for some basic evident signs to support the children. The following are some of the behavioral and physical signs of stress in children and how you can help to reduce them.

Signs of Emotional Distress or Anxiety in Children

Behavioral and Emotional Symptoms:

  • Sudden mood swings, including aggression or clinginess, excessive crying, or whining.

  • Indication of being nervous such as nail-biting.

  • Withdrawal and not responding to affection.

  • Difficulty in concentrating.

  • Trouble with engagement and focus.

  • Refusal to play or study.

  • Attention seeking behavior.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Sudden increase or loss of appetite.

  • Trouble sleeping or nightmares.

  • Frequent headaches or tummy aches.

  • New or recurrent bedwetting.

  • Being lazy or hyperactive.

If your child is experiencing these signs and symptoms, please be patient with them and demonstrate the utmost understanding for maintaining their positive mental health. Scolding or punishments might aggravate the problems further for both the parents and children. Instead, you can take the following actions to deal with them during distress.

Plan of Action for Managing Stress in Children:

  • Safety - Let your child know that their home is a safe and calm place for them, and you will protect them from harm.
  • Relaxation - Create a relaxing environment at home by playing uplifting music, tasty meals, healthy sleep and wake routine, and doing relaxing activities with your children such as yoga and meditation.
  • Monitor - Keep a check on the programs and videos your children are watching and ensure they refrain from negative exposure. Also, monitor if they have been washing their hands. You can make a self-marking chart for this purpose if your kids are younger.
  • Engage - Make sometime every day to listen and play with them. Sing a song or tell a short story or play a little game together. You can also paint together, cook a meal, dance or watch a movie together.
  • Awareness - Keeping your children informed about the COVID-19 outbreak and how to keep themselves safe would reduce their anxiety and would reduce your stress too. Get a child-friendly and easy to understand poster, which you can show them or print it out if you have a printer at home.
  • Creativity - This is a good time to get creative. Encourage your children to make new things out of the craft supplies they have already or invent a new game or trivia. Children love creating as it allows them to express their emotions. This will also boost their creative abilities.
  • Positivity - Introducing positive habits such as reading a book, helping with chores at home, and physical activities go a long way. These activities are also mood boosters and will keep their time occupied as well.
  • Affection - Instead of scolding and shouting, try positive reinforcement by hugging them or applauding them for doing something good. Ask and make them understand with kindness why a certain action is wrong and how it might harm them.

Several health organizations around the world have been working on helping the global community to fight this pandemic.

Other Concerns:

  • Vaccination - Due to the pandemic and a vast number of cases, many people fear to go to hospitals right now, and many children are missing their immunization vaccines. Make sure you follow proper safety protocol before visiting an immunization clinic. And if you have delayed it, make sure it is done as soon as possible.
  • Medical Conditions - If you care for a child with medical conditions such as diabetes or autism or respiratory conditions such as asthma, make sure you have adequate supplies of their medication safely stored at home under adequate conditions out of light and temperature.

If you have further concerns regarding your child's health, do not hesitate to contact your doctor, or you can seek medical advice online via iCliniq.


Frequently Asked Questions


What Can Be Done to Protect Children From Coronavirus?

The prevention protocol does not vary from adult to child. The responsibility of teaching the protocols falls upon the parents to teach and habituate hygiene and masking protocols in children. The prevention protocol includes masking, handwashing, alcohol-based hand sanitization, and preventing touching the face with unwashed hands. Other protocols to implement are:
- Story-based hygiene education.
- Cleaning the toys at least once a day.
- Clean the floor and commonly touched objects at least once a day.
- The child should avoid contact with the ones carrying flu-like symptoms.
- Encourage indoor activities and prevent outdoor games.
- Avoid taking the child to crowded places.
- Make the child drink plenty of water and consume vitamin C-rich food or supplements.
- Keep children away from the elderly.
- Provide balanced and nutritious food.
- Continue learning and schooling through digital platforms.
- Try to talk to the child to assess their mental health, fears, and apprehensions.


Can COVID Affect Kids?

COVID spares none, irrespective of age, sex, race, and nationality. The majority of COVID-affected children usually develop mild viral infected alike symptoms. Rarely in case of predisposing factors or underlying diseases, COVID may prove fatal. So prevention and intervention plans must be in place to prevent any such complications.


What Is the Duration of COVID in Kids?

On contacting COVID, children must be quarantined at home for at least ten days. Medical intervention may not be needed unless the child does not demonstrate an improvement in symptoms or lack of fever for 24 hours. The symptoms may last up to 21 days.


For How Long Does COVID Remain Contagious?

For asymptomatic cases, isolation can limit to five days, but masking for ten days is a must as the virus remains contagious for that period. The same for moderate cases can be done for ten days and 20 days, respectively. Whereas severely immunocompromised individuals may need to extend the isolation period up to 20 days.


When Does COVID Worsen?

COVID can start asymptomatic or with mild features. But the situation can quickly worsen, and the symptoms can turn severe within five to seven days. It is possible for individuals to develop pneumonia very fast. The timeline of worsening largely depends on the severity and stain of the virus and on the patient’s immunity.


When Does COVID Start Showing Signs of Infection?

The average incubation period of COVID virus is calculated to be 6.69 days. Individuals exposed to COVID virus may develop symptoms as soon as day two or as late as two weeks. The initial symptoms may be mild or completely asymptomatic. However,  it is possible to worsen into something serious like pneumonia quickly.


What Clinical Features Do Children With COVID Present With?

The clinical features of COVID in babies and children are as follows:
- Cough.
- Fever or chills.
- Shortness of breath.
- Body aches.
- Sore throat.
- Loss of taste or smell.
- Diarrhea.
- Headache.
- Fatigue.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Congestion.
- Runny nose.


How to Manage COVID Cough at Home?

Home remedies for COVID cough include:
- Moisten the throat regularly by sipping on drinks throughout the day.
- Drink warm beverages like tea or broth.
- Hot tea or water with honey.
- Steam inhalation.
- Frozen meat eating.
- Cough drops, lozenges, or hard candy to soothe the throat.
- Cough syrups and OTC (over-the-counter) drugs.


For How Long Can One Test Positive for Omicron?

More than 80 percent of individuals who tested positive for Omicron BA still tested positive five days from the day of onset, as recorded on a RAT (rapid antigen test). Some reported cases have tested positive after ten or even 14 days of onset. But the percentage of Omicron patients testing positive on subsequent days keeps falling, with just about 20 percent testing positive by day 11.

Last reviewed at:
10 Mar 2022  -  4 min read


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