Helping children cope with stress during the Covid-19 outbreak

Helping children cope with stress during the Covid-19 outbreak

The first phase of controlling the spread of the virus saw many governments across the world shutting down schools and colleges to lower the rate of transmission. While this was a step taken to protect our little ones, it is important to ensure they feel safe and happy at home without the stress of being in their current closed environment getting to them.

Our children are growing up to brace the norm of attending classes online. They have been at home with no outdoor playtime and without meeting other kids of their age for the past couple of months. Their only interaction is with the adults at home and they must be prepared for the new (but temporary) reality that they are being subject to. We may not realize it, but children learn from their parents and we should take care to not relay our worries and anxiety onto them. As parents, we must help children cope with the stress of this outbreak and not let our stress and anxiety relay onto them. We can take this period in our stride by teaching kids how to get through tough times.

Children respond to stress in different ways

In stressful environments, a child may show it by being more clingy, anxious, angry, agitated and withdrawing. They can even wet their beds. Try responding to your child’s reactions in a supportive way. Listening to their concerns and giving them extra love and attention during this time is crucial.

Keep children close to their family

Keep your children close to you and the family and avoid separating them as much as possible. If in case you have to be away from them, ensure you keep contact with them via phone to reassure them that you are with them.

Give them opportunities to play and relax

Think of activities that will help you be involved together as a family. Utilize this time to teach children life skills & self-help activities. Keep them involved by encouraging them to do daily chores like making their beds, cleaning, cooking & gardening that can make them more responsible & self-reliant.

Since kids have a lot of time to spare these days, this is the ideal time to develop hobbies and realize their passion. Introduce them to the world of books and help them develop an interest in reading. You can also encourage them to explore art, music, dance, or anything creative. Keep some time aside for exercising too. Indoor exercises & relaxation techniques can promote healthy distraction during this time.

Another thing that you can keep a check on is screen time. While you keep an age appropriate quota for screen time, make sure that they use the tech productively to attend virtual classes or to read e-books & to video chat with friends and family. For most of the time though give them reasons to let them unplug & connect with family.

This is the only time that you get to spend quality and uninterrupted time with your children. Make the most of it. Cherish these moments and help them save these memories of your time together by helping them keep a scrapbook or album.

Try and stick to routines

Normal routines have been affected in every household observing social distancing. For the most part of it, try and stick to routines and schedules or create new ones for the new environment that they are in with time for learning, playing and relaxing.

Parents should set a structured routine for the entire family by creating a timetable of daily activities like fixing a time to wake up, have meals, to play, to study, to go to bed, etc. This will help children become more disciplined.

Keep them informed

It is important to address children’s fears in simple words that they can understand and explain to them the importance of staying indoors & social distancing as a precautionary measure. You should also teach them personal hygiene, hand washing and cough etiquette not just as measures for this pandemic but to inculcate as part of their lifestyle.

Also let them know, in a reassuring way, about what could happen if either a family member or the child doesn’t feel well and may have to go to the hospital for some time to get it checked.

The key is to ensure the child doesn’t feel stressed with so many changes happening all at once in their lives and is gradually introduced to the new, and temporary, normal.

Though this period of isolation is distressing, remember you have the gift of time now and the gift of your loved ones around you. Spend quality time with your children and use it to teach them values, to teach them to relax & to pray, to have faith, to feel connected & be grounded.


Dr. Suma ArunDr. Suma Arun

Specialist Paediatrician
Aster Clinic, Al Qusais 1

Click here to book an appointment with Dr. Suma:


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