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Caring for Children During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Written by
Dr. Hira Chaudhry
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published on Apr 27, 2020   -  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.


This is a sponsored Ad. icliniq or icliniq doctors do not endorse the content in the Ad.

Last reviewed at:
27 Apr 2020  -  4 min read




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