A Quick Summary:
It is natural to feel anxious as we try to navigate through life in the lockdown. The pandemic has had a toll on all of us, including children. This sudden shift to online classes, amidst all the chaos surrounding them with regards to the pandemic, vaccines, and increasing cases can make them feel stressed and confused. Here’s a few stress management techniques parents can use to guide their children during this time.
- Children should think of home as their safe space. Parents need to manage their own stress and try to maintain a calm and positive environment at home for their children. Stress can manifest in children in many different ways, and parents should be careful to know when their children are in distress.
- Practicing yoga and meditation can be beneficial for children. Forming this habit from an early age helps lower anxiety levels. Yoga can be made fun for young children by teaching them poses named after animals and keep them engaged.
- Since children can’t go out and play due to the lockdown, parents need to come up with inventive ways to ensure physical exercise. Dance, jump ropes, or indoor sports are encouraged.
- Lockdown has paved way for default family time. Spend time with your children playing board games, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. This helps keep stress at bay and helps you relax collectively.
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As we watch the events of the pandemic unfold around us, it’s only natural to have increased feelings of stress and anxiety. If we as adults feel this way, then of course, so would our children as they may not possess the same ability to rationalise the current state of the world. It falls on us as adults to find ways in which to help our children navigate through this period.
Here are a few ways in which we can help our students to manage their stress levels:
Managing your own stress: Children tend to model the behaviour of their parents. And so stressed parents will result in a stressed child. Try and keep the home environment stress free, nurturing and calm. The house should be a safe place for your child. Expressing stress, fear, or anxiety in front of children will only cause them to pick it up. Since children have an underdeveloped frontal cortex, their interpretation of the stress can be very different from what was said and can manifest in different ways.
Meditation & Yoga: Yoga can not only help relieve stress and anxiety but also help in increasing productivity and build mindfulness. Some simple breathing exercises like pranayama or chanting has been shown to help children relax and to lower their anxiety levels. It’s never too early to start yoga as all ages can find some benefit from its practice. One can always find fun ways to keep younger children engaged with it. For example, teaching them poses named after animals helps kids relate to the asana. An excellent resource to learn more is “Yoga Education for Children” by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
Physical Exercise: Children need to run and play. Research shows that an hour of movement a day can have a significant impact on learning and stress. Exercise stimulates chemical changes in the brain that help enhance mood, thinking and brain function. However given lockdown, one has to come up with inventive ways to get exercise in the house. A few secure options are dance, building an obstacle course using household items, hula-hoop, jump rope, or also inventing indoor sports. If these are not enough, there are many people conducting classes for children via Facebook live or zoom, such as physical fitness, taekwondo, and even gymnastics.
Family Time: The silver lining to lockdown is that it has given us a unique opportunity to spend time with our children, one we may not ever get again. Games are an excellent way for all to spend time together. Games like Pictionary, Scrabble and charades can be fun for children of various ages to participate in. Another way to keep your children engaged is to keep them occupied in the kitchen with exciting recipes, different cooking methods, nutritional value etc. Food is something we all enjoy, no matter what age. Family time is special and unique, so make the most of this opportunity to make it memorable for you and your child. It will help them reduce stress and build a strong familial bond.