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Taking Care of Children During COVID-19
Children and adolescents have been at home with schools being shut for over one year. Their regular schedules have been disrupted with no clear idea of when they will get restarted. As a result, parents must keep a close eye on their children. Here are some tips:
- Children may be encouraged to visit reputable websites such as the World Health Organization, the Centres for Disease Control, or the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- Try answering children’s queries but figure out a way of striking a balance.
- Limit media exposure, especially if there is fear-mongering or alarming content, exposed to pandemic related information.
- Create a new household pattern that includes academic work, chores, play, phone or other kinds of technological engagement with classmates and relatives, and family time.
- Meals and bedtime should be scheduled.
- It would be fantastic to do some indoor workouts as well.
- Family time can include games that parents may not have had time to play thus far. This is an excellent opportunity to connect with the family by playing board games, carrom, antakshari, etc.
- Try not to transfer anxiety to children.
- If there is significant distress, consider an evaluation by a mental health professional.
- School teachers can teach simple exercises, including deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques, distraction and positive self-talk.
- Children can also be taught about the importance of prosocial behaviour and human virtues like empathy and patience, among others. This can help them understand their role in society and how social distancing is not equivalent to emotional distancing.
- The teachers need to interact with parents regarding feedback about their mental health.
- Spend time with the child, show interest and play with them. Give lots of affection and bodily contact.
- Always encourage the child to play with others, and children should not be separated from siblings.
- Children should be given protective foods such as seasonal fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus, and other yellow fruits and colours of orange. Vitamins A, E, and C and minerals like zinc, copper, iron, and selenium have been shown to alter immunological responses.
- Advise the child to drink 8-10 glasses of water and keep them hydrated. Water helps to flush out toxins.
- Provide them with home-cooked food. Use low cholesterol oil for cooking food and include spices like ginger, garlic and turmeric in the diet, which are natural immunity boosters.
- Don’t give food made with maida, fried and junk food to the child.
- Avoid sugary or packed juices and carbonated drinks as these are very low in nutrients.
- Avoid providing cheese, coconut and palm oil, butter, and unsaturated fats that are unhealthy.
- Include whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat flour, oats and millets in the children’s diet. Include beans, lentils and pulses as they are good sources of protein.
- Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges should be included in the children’s diet as they are good sources of vitamin C, which is very much helpful in improving immunity levels and fighting off infections.
- Antioxidants can be found in almonds, walnuts, and flax seeds, and they should be included in your daily diet.