Times like the one we’re in now are putting people under immense pressure, stressing them out – and it is no different for our children. Children react to emergencies and situations such as these differently, and how they would depends on many factors such as their age, previous experiences and the amount of exposure they’ve had to the situation. Some children are quick to react to such situations, while others may show signs of difficulty at a much later stage.
Much of the child’s reactions takes after what they see in the surrounding environment. This makes it important for the parents to remain calm and discuss matters to them in an age-appropriate way as well as carefully monitor what the child is being exposed. Talking to children calmly and confidently reinforces their confidence and helps them to prepare better for the situation at hand and what’s coming after.
What causes an emotional effect on children during emergencies?
The damage caused by epidemics can be overwhelming. Separation from school, family and friends can create a great deal of stress and anxiety in children. These are some main causes of anxiety and stress in children:
- Direct involvement with people who’ve been found as COVID 19 positive
- The thought that a loved one may die
- Losing a family member/friend/acquaintance
- How parents and caregivers react to the situation
- Separation from school and friends
- Exposure to media
Helping children understand facts and cope
These situations can engender varied responses in children. To help them cope, you must first set a good example by managing your stress with healthy lifestyle choices. This prepares you to respond to unexpected events, making you take better and balanced decisions that are in the best interest of your family and loved ones.
- Encourage your children to talk about the situation. Make yourself available and listen to what they are saying. Children must know that you’re always ready to answer their questions.
- Reassure your children by remaining calm. Children can pick hints from what you say and how you say it. So, it is important for you to remain calm and reassure them
- Everybody is equally at risk of an attack from a virus, irrespective of race and ethnicity. Do not create any biases.
- Give information appropriate for the age of the child. Talk to them about how some information they’re viewing may not be correct.
- Promote healthy practices among yourself and your children. Encourage them to wash their hands, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing, cough or sneeze into their elbows or tissue.
- Exposing children to intense media coverage can scare and disturb them. So, monitor the information they’re consuming.
- Make your children stick to a routine to give them a sense of structure. This could make them feel more relaxed. When they’re past the situation, help them go back to their normal activities such as going to school, playing with friends and so on.
Help your children feel a sense of control when this is over. Share the right information and help them stay calm. Let them mentally prepare themselves for the changes and gain an understanding of what has passed.