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How to Improve Children’s Mental & Emotional Health

Challenging Time for Parents and Children

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Year 2020 has brought a sudden unexpected change in the entire world. India is also experiencing sudden unprecedented circumstances all over the country. Urban, rural, educated, uneducated, working, non-working, young, old, and off course our children also are going through this pandemic.  Our language has changed and the world normal has lost its original meaning. Now we are talking about the new normal – which means living in the new world of distancing, masks as the most important thing required to step outside your home. As adults are accepting the new way of life our children are confused, worried, anxious and sometimes stressed. It’s really difficult and challenging time for children to remain locked in home for hours, days and months. Children are missing their natural way of playing, jumping, being on the playground, talking with friends.

It’s most challenging time for children and parents. Both of them seemed to be anxious and confused on how to engage children at home. The screen time has increased a lot, it may be mobile, tv, internet, online games and all of this needs screen. Limiting screen time and engaging in any other activity is been a real problem for parents. Children of all age group are getting addicted to screen time and this is not good at all. One more challenge parents are dealing is improving the mental health of children. Loneliness and life at home has truly affected their mental health. The need today is to help children to maintain and improve a good mental and emotional health. Every child is different has different likes, dislikes, habits, needs, goals and behaviour. So parents need to understand their child’s needs emotional and mental wellbeing and help the child in building a cool and stable mental health.

Some tips to improve children’s mental & emotional health:

Spend Quality time Vs Left Over time: This time would be totally no screen time. Parents and children need to daily spend at least 30 mins of quality time with one another. Parents have a lot of work but set aside quality time and not left over time for children. This will be family bonding time and will improve the emotional and mental well being.

Talk, Laugh, Sing and Dance: Children love to talk more, laugh more, sing and dance more than adults. So share stories with them, make them think in the stories and help them to learn from the stories. Parents need to do homework of selecting stories and sharing with children. Tell jokes, listen to children’s jokes, ask then to dance and you too dance with them. Encourage them to sing and some children may really love singing, some may love to dance.

Play games –Time of politeness- this will be being polite with everyone at home for 1 or 2 hours every day. Time for cleaning house – this will be cleaning house, arranging things at home for 15 minutes. Time of cooking-this will be involving children in cooking with mommy. Learning baking and cooking skills once a week will create interest and build positive mental wellbeing. Get creative and try new games based on child’s interest.

Keep Colour code for Everyday Dressing: Make a list of colours and assign one colour for every day for example –Blue for Monday, Yellow for Tuesday…Encourage children to dress according to colour this will help them to be creative in everyday dressing. If possible parents and family members can also follow the same dress code. It will bring colours to everyday life at home                    

Follow Timetable: I know it’s easy to make schedules/timetable and difficult to follow, I would encourage both parents and children together prepare timetable. Ask children to give inputs, share thoughts and prepare schedules and this will encourage them to follow the timetable. Children will learn time management. Managing time when you have it is the most important learning and the earlier children learn it will be beneficial for them.

At the end of the day, children need to have more fun in talking, speaking, joking, cooking, eating together with their parents, This fun, joy and happiness will create bonding and will improve the mental and emotional health of our children. Be happy, stay safe, enjoy each day and feel each day and have fun each day.                                                               

BY SWAPNA CHANDEKAR

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