Keeping Kids Mentally & Emotionally Healthy During A Pandemic
With the Coronavirus Pandemic shutting down schools early this year, children throughout the world have been home from school, away from their friends, and without the social activities that keep them happy and mentally healthy for months. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), over 90% of children enrolled in school have been affected by school closures worldwide. That is approximately 1.5 billion students without a school to go to. As we live through these unprecedented times, this worldwide event has brought on new stresses and fear that children were not prepared to cope with. With no in-person access to their friends, teachers, and loved ones, it is more important now than ever before to keep our children’s mental health and emotional well-being at the front of our minds.
Children are being overwhelmed with stressors that most children are not accustomed to dealing with or being exposed to. They worry about their family becoming ill, or becoming ill themselves. Many children have already had the experience of a loved one passing away due to COVID-19. Kids are worried about being behind in school, having to repeat a grade, and missing out on milestone events such as culminations and graduations. They are concerned about their parents going to work at supermarkets and hospitals each day. They miss being together. They miss their lifestyles and routines. They miss structure. They miss their normal coping tools: sports, performing arts, school, etc. And many children do not fully understand why they are feeling this way or why their lives have changed so drastically, so quickly.
So, what can you do to help your child through these difficult times?
Since children are home from school and activities, and the Coronavirus Pandemic is at the forefront of all media outlets right now, kids are bound to absorb some of the big, scary news that they are hearing. Psychology Today explains “…parents need to create direct conversations with children about these issues (COVID-19) to avoid panic and reduce anxiety.” Open communication of their thoughts and feelings, as well as the precautions being taken as a family are vital in the management of children’s anxieties.
Another key to maintaining mental health and emotional well-being in our children is establishing a new routine in order to provide them with a sense of structure, safety, and security, essential aspects of healthy childhood development. Jena Lee, MD, medical director of pediatric consultation and emergency psychiatry at UCLA points out that, “Daily structure is important to everyone, but particularly to children in their psychological and emotional development. The consistency of schedules, predictable rules and consequences, and set expectations teach children how to behave, develop self-discipline and impulse control and, importantly, a sense of safety and control.”
With summer approaching and the structure of school through distance learning coming to an end for the school year, it will be important for parents to develop engaging routines that their children can follow each day in order to keep their development on track. Summer camps like Performing Arts Workshops (PAW) understand the need for structured enrichment this summer, and have developed interactive live online programming in response to this community need. PAW is offering 8 one-week sessions of Online Camp, where parents can choose to have their children participate in either one, two, or three 1-hour workshops per day. This allows for as much or as little structured screen time as a parent wishes, while still engaging their children, spreading joy, connecting kids to one another, and assisting with the development of a summer routine. Online Summer Camps can also be beneficial for children who may be experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness as a result of being home from school and activities. Performing Arts Workshops in particular is a great option for kids in need of a creative outlet to express how they are feeling and to relieve some of their COVID-19 stress. With the realities of COVID-19 financial hardships in mind, PAW is also offering a special 2 for 1 deal for siblings sharing a device, as well as their Ambassador Scholarshipof 50% off of tuition in exchange for 4 hours of social media awareness.
Trusted for over 30 years, PAW’s award-winning camps for kids ages 5-14 are going online this summer! PAW’s Virtual Summer Camp will include workshops in Acting, Singing, Dance, Guitar, Magic, Comedy & Debate For Kids!