Parents and guardians can help build resilience in children and discuss fears and anxieties around the COVID-19 pandemic, says child and adolescent nursing expert Dr Yvonne Parry.
It’s important to support our children and young people through times of community difficulty, giving them skills to manage adversity, says Dr Parry from the Caring Futures Institute
“This has been a very difficult year already for children and parents. It’s been impossible for all of us to ignore the effects of the bushfires, drought and now lockdown and global pandemic.
“(It’s) a good time for adults to use this time to engage with their children and families about their concerns.
“Allow them to discuss their feelings by asking them what they are worried about, what is going on, and what lies ahead.
“Always encourage them to deal with difficult times in a positive way, including keeping in touch with friends and family via phone calls or appropriate digital media channels.
“Difficult times always pass, and finding solutions will help them adjust to change.”
Dr Perry says reputable sites, such as state health, mental health, coping with coronavirus information, and school or education websites can offer guardians and carers appropriate information to help support children.
Within the physical distancing, and other COVID-19 restrictions, families can still enjoy outdoor activities and exercise to balance ‘downtime’ leisure activities, interactive video or board games, and reflective activities such as reading or writing.
Dr Parry, from the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University, also suggests some other strategies.
- Listen to your children’s concerns, and reassure them with positive reinforcement and actions.
- Keep a regular routine, ensuring plenty of sleep and relaxation.
- Serve healthy, nutritional meals and encourage backyard exercise and activity.
- Assist children to stay in virtual touch with friends and family via video calls on Facetime, Skype, etc.
- Organise creative and enjoyable activities to fill the weekends or school holidays.
- Plan ahead for media – and COVID-19 news – free times, and ensure at least one hour of screen-free time before bedtime.