In these uncertain times, keeping yourself and your family healthy is as important as ever. But as we spend more time working and learning from home, it’s easy to fall out of our everyday routines. This has led to lifestyle changes that can affect both our physical and emotional health. While adults can find different ways to cope with these changes, it may be a little more difficult for children, who may be feeling signs of stress but aren’t sure how to manage their feelings.
While the pandemic continues to impact worldwide significantly, it’s up to parents to make their children feel safe, teach their children how to protect themselves, help them keep healthy routines, and learn to manage their emotions in stressful times like these. If you’re a parent and you’re not sure how to go about it, here are a few helpful tips to keep your children feeling physically and emotionally safe during the pandemic.
Develop and Maintain Good Hygiene Habits
One of the most important things that children need to be aware of, especially during a global health crisis, is proper hygiene. It is an important life lesson, not just during the pandemic but even after it. Parents can teach their kids these habits, but it’s also important to lead by example and maintain these habits themselves.
Proper Hand Washing
The best way for children to learn something is by making a lesson fun. Ensure that your children know when to wash their hands (after visiting a public place, before and after eating, etc.) and how to wash their hands by making a song or game out of it. For instance, allow them to time their handwashing by singing the happy birthday song twice.
Teaching children the importance of oral care early on will not only save you multiple trips to the dentist, but it will also ensure that they have a fresh and strong set of teeth that will last them most of their lives. However, if your child feels any pain or discomfort, it’s important to have a pediatric dentist check on it right away to prevent it from getting worse.
Keeping Hands Away from Face
Avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, ears, and mouth is vital in preventing the contraction or spread of COVID-19. Let your child know that doing so can make them sick and make it a challenge for them not to touch their faces until they’ve washed their hands properly.
Covering Coughs and Sneezes
Whether outside or at home, children need to cover their mouths and noses after a cough or sneeze. Bring a pack of tissues when going outside, and ensure that your child washes their hands after.
Practice a Healthier Lifestyle
Since many households are spending more time at home, we’re also likely spending more of our time sitting or lying down for hours at a time. Having a sedentary lifestyle not only increases the risk of chronic health problems but can also take a toll on one’s mental well-being.
Keep a Routine
A lack of structure in our daily lives can lead to stress and anxiety, especially for children. Routines bring comfort, consistency, and normalcy to a child’s life. They are also a source of many lessons that can benefit them later on in life, like time management, setting expectations, confidence, independence, and more. Make sure to have a daily routine that the whole family can follow — this will be good for your child and the rest of the family.
A balanced diet is as important as ever because good food makes you feel good. Children need as many nutrients as they can get, especially because they’re still growing, so their meals must consist of four categories: fruits, vegetables, healthy protein, and healthy carbs. It’s also important to keep an eye on their snacking habits and replacing bad food like potato chips with healthier alternatives like fruits and vegetables.
Children need at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Whether it’s playing a sport, going for a (supervised) walk, or simply running around the house, as long as they’re moving around, they’ll be getting the exercise they need to stay healthy.
Don’t Forget to Check In.
While keeping your child physically healthy is important, you also need to understand their emotional needs by asking them how they’re feeling and allowing them to process these emotions through conversations and activities that can serve as an outlet to relax and cope with the stresses that come with needing to stay home all the time.
In times like these, it’s difficult not to feel sad or anxious about what’s ahead, but it’s important to remain optimistic not only for you but also for a child. Also, while making sure your child is healthy, don’t forget to think about your own health. Remember to take a break whenever you need to and freely explore what works and doesn’t work for you. Let this time serve as a way to bond with your child as you take the opportunity to go through this experience together.