Social distancing – the act of limiting social contact in order to slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease – is a new way of life for many families right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. This sudden change in your family’s routine can be extremely hard for your child.
Positive mental health is important at every age, from young children to seniors. So being aware of your child’s mental wellbeing will help your family have a successful social distancing experience.
Here are 7 tips that will help you navigate your child’s mental wellbeing during this time:
1. Keep their sleep schedule.
Sleep is so important to good mental health. Making sure your child goes to bed and wakes up at a normal time will help your child’s body stay regulated.
2. Create a routine.
Decide as a family what your daily
schedule should look like. Routine is an important part of your child feeling secure. It doesn’t have to be detailed down to the minute. Just decide, as a family, what your days will look like. An example could include: wake up, breakfast, school work, go for a walk, lunch, quiet time, fun activity, backyard play, dinner, family time, bedtime routine, bedtime.
3. Add in physical activities.
Whether it is a walk through your neighborhood, playing in the yard, or a dance party inside, make sure to get their bodies moving. Tip: There are some great YouTube channels that encourage kids to get moving, such as GoNoodle, Cosmic Kids Yoga, The Learning Station, and Move to Learn.
4. Kids need social interaction.
This is a great time to set up a video call with one of their friends or relatives. Be sure to schedule ahead of time so that both parties are available.
5. Be understanding.
With a change in routine, your child might be more emotional. Give them a little extra time to work through those feelings. Tip: Kids express their emotions through art. Have everyone in the family draw how they feel or draw something about their day. Then everyone can discuss what they drew.
6. Practice Mindfulness with Yourself.
Kids take emotional queues from their parents. Be aware of your own mental wellbeing. If you are anxious about the self-isolation, your kids can feel it and will follow suit. A break from the news and social media might be a good way to calm your own anxiety.
Family conversations about how everyone is feeling and what they are thinking about will help children learn how to express themselves in a positive manner. Don’t be afraid to tell your children some of your feelings, even if you are feeling sad, anxious, or scared. This allows your children to see that they aren’t alone in these feelings. Just be sure to keep it on a level appropriate for their understanding.
Each family situation will be different during this time. But learning how to look for clues that your child’s mental wellbeing needs guidance will allow your family to have a productive, safe and less stressful experience during social distancing.