By Dr Payal Sharma Kamath
India and the rest of the world grapple with Covid-19 lockdown, it is imperative to shift our focus to children and witness how they are adapting to the new normal this Independence day. Children are especially known to thrive on an established routine. However, their usual day-to-day processes have been turned upside down due to the pandemic.
Some children may be experiencing heightened negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, or grief. When children practice activities, they practice their large and small motor skills, gain confidence in their ability to try new things, build their self-esteem and pride in their independence.
So, this Independence Day, ditch the stress with these suggestions for parents to keep their child engaged during quarantine.
Scripts and plays
Learning about freedom fighters and India’s struggle for independence can have a good influence on children and teach them to support others, while allowing them to find their strengths. Children can also find the courage to deal with real situations of their life. Freedom fighters allow kids to dare, explore brave parts of themselves. Kids can look up to and learn from freedom fighters because they are real people with real problems and vulnerabilities.
Children should have a routine to function within
For preschoolers, parents should make a basic routine and encourage older children to create their schedules. This will help you plan and manage what your child is doing throughout the day. It will also go a long way in instilling discipline in children, while also giving them a sense of purpose. Create a peaceful and organised place for learning which will improve concentration and improve motivation for learning.
Craft activities for mental health
It is time for parents to make creativity a priority in their children’s life as working with your hands and making time to be creative can boost your mood, keep your brain sharp. Children can use art and creative endeavors to cope and express themselves as it’s no surprise that DIY and crafting can help with anxiety, too. Crafting as a form of self-care is a long-standing tradition that can keep your child motivated to the right direction and purpose.
Journaling and planners
Journaling and planners are an excellent way for children to add creativity to their day. It’s a way to deal with any overwhelming emotion and to find a healthy way to express yourself. This makes a journal a helpful tool in managing your child’s mental health. Keeping a journal will help your child to create order when their world feels like it’s in chaos. Look at their writing time as personal relaxation time when they can easily de-stress and wind down. Your child will get to discover themselves by revealing their most private fears, thoughts and feelings.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are fascinating and help children to practice problem-solving in a tangible way. Scavenger hunts are easy to customise to your child’s abilities and interests. It helps to reinforce methods they have been taught by parents or teachers in a physical way. They exercise the mind by reinforcing problem-solving skills. However, they can also be good physical exercise. You can incorporate clues that get kids moving and running from place to place.
Outdoor activities (with precautions in the pandemic)
Spending time in nature can act as a balm for your child’s mental health. Encourage your child to connect with nature everyday for 10-20 minutes. It not only makes a child feel relaxed and better emotionally, it also contributes to the confidence and physical well-being. Spending time in nature has cognitive as well as emotional benefits.
(The writer is a Mumbai-based psychiatrist.)
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