Excerpts from While You Are At Home Helping Children Cope during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Excerpts from
While You Are At Home: Helping Children Cope during the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Sohani Fernando, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
8th April 2020

  • Practice the Art of Reflection
  • Plan for Recharging Moments
  • Be Mindful of Information Overload
  • Empathic and Consistent Communication
  • Facilitate Emotional Expressions
  • Allow the Grieving Process
  • Expect Varied Behaviours from Your children
  • Provide More Attachments and Attention
  • Balance their Day and Engage their Minds
  • Plan for “Thankful” Moments
  • Be Mindful of Cabin Fever
  • Provide Parent-Led Choices
  • Balance Routines with Flexibility
  • Schedule Daily Chores
  • Pay it Forward
  • Provide them with structured activities to keep them busy
  • Keep to a daily routine as much as possible with plenty of room for flexibility
  • Encourage them to explore their spirituality and faith
  • Teach your children to pray for the needs of others
  • Encourage your children to make lists of what they are thankful for
  • Allow them to free play
  • Allow limited screen time with a balance of educational programs and entertainment
  • Give them opportunities to interact with nature, either physically or virtually
  • Reduce exposure to the news and social media
  • Provide opportunities to be creative and express themselves-: Art, music, dance, writing,
  • poetry, cooking, gardening, sewing, carpentry, building, etc.
  • Provide opportunities to move, whether outside or indoors, be creative.
  • Teach them to journal their thoughts (use an exercise book or diary if you have one)
  • Engage in family fun activities such as board games
  • Provide ways for your children to stay in community with classmates to the fullest extent
  • possible
  • Teach them stress management techniques- (see Annex 1 below)

Annexure I

The following techniques are commonly used to de-stress and has been practiced by millions
across the globe. They are helpful for the entire family!

Safe Place (Calm Place): Close your eyes. Think of a place you have been to in the past that
brings you feelings of relaxation. For example, the beach, a river, a forest, under a tree, your home,
in a garden, etc. While you think of this place, engage in diaphragmatic breathing. Just breathe,
thinking of that familiar, peaceful place. Tapping into your senses, pay attention to the sounds, the
sights, the smells associated with this place. Engage with that place in your mind. Picture yourself
in that place enjoying the beauty and tranquility of the scenes you are viewing in your mind. After
enjoying the peacefulness of your “safe place”, you can open your eyes slowly. Do this exercise
as part of a stress management routine to de-stress. This is a great tool to teach children, especially
during this time of being home-bound. Children are probably longing to go on a fun trip
somewhere or just step outside into their familiar worlds but cannot due to the current crisis.
Encourage them to picture their calm place and even draw it if they like.

Diaphragmatic Breathing: There are various styles to deep breathing. Keep one hand on your
heart and one on your belly. Inhale, taking a deep breath with your nose filling your lungs with air
(your diaphragm pushes down against the stomach causing your stomach to go out) after counting
1, 2, 3, (depending on your age, less or more counts) then exhale slowly with your mouth. Continue
this for about 1-5 minutes (depending on your age). Please discontinue if you have pain in any part
of your body while engaging in these exercises.

Balloon Breathing: Children enjoy doing this type of exercise. It involves placing your hands on
your head and pretend to blow up a balloon gradually. As you take breaths with your nose, keep
moving your hands up, like as if to show the balloon being inflated. Once you’ve reached the top,
then slowly exhale with your mouth while deflating the balloon. Move your hands down gradually
until it reaches your head. Repeat this (1-5 minutes depending on your age). Children under 5 years
may only be able to do this exercise for about a minute before they get restless while older children
for longer time.

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