With the lockdown measures of COVID hitting our community, the routines of life and family changed drastically and all of a sudden, leaving it difficult for children to understand why they have had to stay away from the people they love. From grandma and grandpa to aunties to best friends, COVID added to the feelings of separation for our young ones.
This might have left some children feeling a little anxious, sad and, even, angry. These feelings may be demonstrated in a variety of ways. A preliminary study conducted in China reported the presence of psychological difficulties in children during the COVID-19 pandemic, with fear, clinging, inattention, and irritability as the most severe symptoms for younger children (Jiao et al., 2020).
Parents struggling to cope with their children during their most anxious moods can participate in a few different activities to help people feel close. Below are the top five our families have enjoyed.
Reach out to others regularly. Staying in touch with friends and family is good for everyone. Feeling close to others reduces anxiety and has been known to boost the immune system. Even though families are staying home more, they can reach out by phone, video chat or social media to family and friends. Through these activities, it is easier to feel close, even while apart. It is a great way to practice physical distancing, but social togetherness.
Read a story together. When feeling far apart, children respond well to being close together physically but their minds going far away. What better way to do that than by reading a story and allowing the imagination to go to new places. Adding new voices or even creating a new ending to the old story can help children feel closer to the person they are reading with – even if they’re reading together through technology.
Colour together. Colouring is an activity normally associated with children but it can also help adults combat stress. Colouring helps improve motor skills for children, helps stimulate their creativity and improves confidence and self-esteem, among many other benefits. For adults, colouring helps refocus their attention outside self-awareness and helps relax the brain. While it may not relax every adult, it is still a wonderful activity to do together with children to feel closer.
Faraway Families hascolour your own postcards that can be used as an activity and then sent to family and friends down the street or far away. Which leads to the next activity.
Create care packages. To help keep the focus away from feelings of angst, it can be beneficial for children to focus their attention on those they love and create a care package of things that would appeal to the other person. Children could add small items to a variety of boxes meant for different people each week and then sent off at the end of the month. This helps children understand that their small gestures can have a big impact to those they love.
Explore a culture. This is a great opportunity for children to explore a culture first-hand with family who live far away, especially those who live in a different country. Locate the place on a map and discuss what life might be like for people who live there. Ask family members living far away to give a tour of their everyday life, through video or photo diary. For children who love trains or buses, a video of a morning commute might help them feel closer to their family member.
Regardless of whether family members live near or far, there are a number of ways they can feel closer together. In the comments below, let us know how your faraway families have been staying close during COVID.