August 23, 2020 4:24:06 pm
By Dr Maninder Singh Dhaliwal
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and this holds true for children as well. One of the biggest challenges is the discontinuation of attending school, which offers a platform for children to express themselves, learn new things, play and make friends. However, the pandemic has imposed certain restrictions which can cause uncertainty and imbalance in the lives of the young ones. The role of parents in keeping their children happy, motivated and healthy during such difficult times is paramount. Therefore, it is important for parents to lead a disciplined and structured life to make their children understand that life will continue normally even amidst the pandemic.
Listed below are some effective tips for ensuring the physical and mental well-being of your child:
Vigorous to moderate physical activity
Children should engage in activities such as walking, running or cycling within their residential premises, if possible. Participating in family work-out sessions like dancing, Zumba, aerobics, etc, can also help. Children in the age group of five to 16 years must engage in an hour of physical exercise daily.
Vision and screen time
Currently, it is very difficult to reduce screen time for children as almost everything has become virtual, from classes in school to interaction with friends. The screen also serves as a source of entertainment in the absence of outdoor activities. It is important for parents to be a role model for their children; they must limit/ reduce the usage of their screens to motivate their kids to do the same.
Following are some rules to be followed during screen time:
Maintain the required distance while watching the screen. For smartphones, the distance should be 1 foot, for a laptop it must be 2 feet and for the TV screen it should be 10 feet
Avoid watching the screen immediately after waking up or before going to sleep.
Ensure regular screen breaks of 10 minutes every hour. It is also advisable to look away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
Position the computer screen at 10-15 degrees below the eye level to reduce neck and eye strain. It is also advisable to encourage children to use desktop computers.
Be aware of the content that children are consuming and sit with them to monitor this.
Undergo regular eye check-ups and consult your ophthalmologist.
Valuable family time and hobbies
Parents must set aside time for ‘bonding’ with their children daily. The duration for this can be as brief as 20 minutes but the child should get undivided attention during this time. Engaging in activities such as reading a book, doing art and craft, solving puzzles and exchanging stories together are great ways to bond. Apart from this, children should also be encouraged to actively pursue their hobbies and interests.
Vitamins and diet
Vitamin and zinc supplements can be helpful for those who are deficient. Daily consumption of Vitamin D can be beneficial for children especially during such times when their exposure to sunlight is limited. Children must also consume a healthy and well-balanced diet rich in proteins, fibre, fats and complex carbohydrates for strengthening immunity. Ordering food from outside should be avoided and all eatables including groceries must be thoroughly washed.
Vigilance and outdoor protection
Children must be protected adequately while stepping out and all children above the age of two years should wear masks. Social distancing, sanitisation and hygiene must be maintained at all times.
Parents must ensure that their children are administered routine vaccinations on time. While the wait for the COVID-19 vaccine is on, ensuring that your child is vaccinated for all other diseases is essential. Hospitals are also undertaking regular sanitisation and strict hygiene measures to ensure utmost safety and parents should not be hesitant about visiting hospitals for their children when required.
(The writer is Associate Director Paediatrics, Medanta Hospital)
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