We know that many of our normal routines have been disrupted. Despite this, we know that you are all doing your best to stay healthy and active, and taking all the essential health and precautionary measures to stay safe. However, sometimes we may neglect the importance of taking care of our mental health.
Thus, it’s important to create an environment that supports the mental well-being of you and your child, as it will help you navigate negative experiences to move forward. Here we’d like to offer some helpful tips to cope.
Keep a Sense of Normalcy
For children and teenagers, maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine is very important. As much as possible, while following health recommendations, try to keep on doing the things you would typically do as a family; adapt activities that make sense according to your child’s regular interests.
Invest your time in doing things that make you feel good and help you relax, and try to avoid making Covid-19 the centre of your life and conversations. Life needs to go on.
Filter News and Information
We are being bombarded by news (real and fake) which create panic and anxiety in an already vulnerable moment. While it is good to stay informed of the latest status and recommendations regarding the virus, it can quickly become overwhelming. Try to stick to trusted sources of communication, such as government announcements and the SSIS WeChat account. Limit social media exposure and avoid rumours from unreliable sources.
As pointed out by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO): “This is a time for facts, not fear. This is a time for rationality, not rumours. This is a time for solidarity, not stigma.”
Keep Communication Channels Open
Communicating transparently is also something to consider. Children are very perceptive, and they know when something is happening which they are excluded from. They sense the anxiety and stress around them, even when they don’t understand why. Explaining the truth, without worrying them too much, can help settle and calm their emotions.
Keep in mind that for these conversations to go well and calmly, the adults talking to the children need to feel comfortable and confident about the information they are sharing.Please keep it simple, matter-of-fact, and answer their questions honestly. Sometimes a straightforward explanation is sufficient. The child will indicate when they need to revisit it as they process information, and will ask questions when they are ready.
Use Age-Appropriate Language
Try to make the language you use appropriate for your child’s developmental stage and previous experiences. For example, you can explain to younger children how sometimes people can catch a cold or the flu, and it is unfortunate but a reasonable thing to happen. Tell them that there is now a new type of illness going on and that everyone needs to stay clean and healthy. Teenagers are probably already informed of the situation, so you can help by having open talks and filtering their exposure to content that is not helpful.
Reach out to family and friends through any possible means. Allow yourself and children to engage with the important people in your lives by phone or video calls. Do encourage your child to draw or write a journal, or to write cards to give to their friends when they eventually meet. Remind them that it is okay to miss them, to miss being in school, to feel sad, angry and bored with the current situation, but also explain how these decisions are made to keep everyone safe. Although we cannot be sure how long this scenario will last, we do know that eventually, when it is safe, things will return to normal and we’ll all work together to reestablish routines again.
Stay Positive and Be Mindful
Be creative in finding ways to connect, exercise, play, and focus on social and emotional health.
You can try stretching and exercises as a family.
Share positive messages and words of encouragement.
Take stock, slow down and spend quality time together.
Be grateful for your health and for all the small acts of kindness in everyday life.
(Today my neighbour left bottles of hand sanitisers in the building lift for everyone to share. It’s a small thoughtful act and it brought smiles to each person that saw it.)
If you are not sure how to communicate with your child, or if your child is worried about the situation, do not hesitate to contact the school counsellors at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to discuss strategies you can use, and help create an action plan to manage their emotional and mental state.
Thank you for your support as we make the most and the best of everyday.
Take care and stay well.