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7 Ways to Promote Emotional Wellness in Kids During COVID

7 Ways to Promote Emotional Wellness in Kids During COVID

Now is a good time to take a metaphorical temperature check on your children. How is everyone doing?


As distance learning starts to wind down and we embark upon a summer like never before, families are preparing to make even more transitions. New York is starting to slowly reopen and parents are preparing to pivot once again. It’s a good time to take a metaphorical temperature check on your children. How is everyone doing? Even if you don’t think your children are stressed out or severely affected by the quarantine and worries of COVID-19, it’s a good time to up your parenting game when it comes to fostering emotional wellness. There are some key CDC guidelines on how to help children during COVID. But there’s even more we can be doing in the meeting emotional needs of kids. Here are 7 simple ways to promote wellness in children right now.

Be extra supportive of your child.

Your unconditional love is going to be buttressed by providing unconditional support right now. Check in with your children every few days or at least once a week and remind them that part of your job as a parent is to answer any of their questions and provide support, says psychologist, author, and speaker Dr. Nekeshia Hammond. This conversation may take different forms depending upon the ages of your kids but the message should be the same: love, empathy, understanding, and seeking to help. And this goes for everything from circumstantial anger and sadness, to homework frustrations, to friendship drama that’s unfolding virtually. Parents can also model good, effective coping skills, says clinical psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen. Speak openly and calmly about your own anxieties or issues and your children will become better at adapting during periods of crisis.

Be active.

Now is the time to teach your child a new skill like riding a bike or swinging a baseball bat. Spend plenty of time dancing and singing around the house. Or you may want to introduce your kids to yoga. “Encourage them to be engaged in activities that bring them joy, reduce their stress level, and increase their positive sense of self,” Hammond suggests.

Be creative.

The at-home activities are potentially endless. Hammond suggests asking younger children what they might enjoy doing. You can suggest science experiments using household items, or a scavenger hunt around the house or backyard. “Most children are missing their friends, so finding activities where they can interact socially is very important right now,” she adds. What’s more, this period of extended isolation may be leaving some kids deprived of touch, says Thiessen. To remedy, he recommends activities like drawing, painting, sculpting with clay, playing music, and anything that stimulates the senses in tactile ways. 



Be still.

Meditating or coloring are some great ways to be present with one another and enjoy each other’s company without having to say or do much, says Hammond. And they’re ideal for supporting mental health and wellness.

Be informative.

As New York continues to reopen, your children might have questions or be wondering how life is going to change once again. They might even express some fear of re-entering public spaces and social environments or be scared of people wearing masks. To get ahead of any worries, parents can provide information and be specific regarding what you will do outside of the house and how you will be smart to stay healthy. Hammond recommends keeping it short and direct: “When we leave the house, we will wear our mask and carry our hand sanitizer.”

Be playful.

Whether you’re remaining close to home or starting to slowly and safely venture out, the importance of playing with your kids remains paramount. And outdoor play is especially important when it comes to emotional development, self-esteem, and physical wellness. As outlined by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) and its Voice of Play initiative, the benefits of play are far reaching, especially during times of increased stress or upheaval. 

Be aware.

Wondering if your child might be struggling too much? Feeling sad, afraid, worried, or unsure right now is completely normal, for kids and adults. But if your child is having trouble sleeping, eating, experiences dramatic mood changes, or suggesting they want to hurt themselves or others, you should probably seek a mental health professional's guidance, Hammond says. You can find a mental health professional in your area here. And thankfully most are offering telehealth services right now.

“Children must grow up with the ability to be cautious without becoming completely risk-aversive and obsessive,” Thiessen adds. “There are reasonable practices we can follow that will, however, reduce the likelihood that Grandpa or Grandma will get it, and children need to know how to participate in practices that will afford protection for the most vulnerable among us.”

 

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Whitney C. Harris

Author: Whitney C. Harris is a freelance writer and NYMetroParents' Manhattan and Westchester calendar editor. She lives in Sleepy Hollow, NY, with her husband, a toddler, and a dog. See More

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