Corona Virus Quarantine: 10 Ways Parents Can Help Children Home!
By Panch Paul MD
 

I am a child psychiatrist, and I work in a hospital and also see patients in my private clinic. During this quarantine period, I have seen many children teenagers whose anxiety, depression, and stress have become worse. Those who already have a psychiatric condition are struggling even more. Today I am going to discuss ten things that parents can do at this time to help their children:


1. Communicate: Children and teens may feel more isolated during this time. Make sure that you communicate with your children at their level. Encourage them to share their feelings. Listen to them; do not judge. Unless they tell you, you cannot help them.

2. Assure: Children are young, and for many, this may be the first crisis they have seen. But as adults, we know that crises and challenges are part of life. Humanity has survived wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes, fires, and many disasters. Every month there is a crisis somewhere in the world. The Corona Virus is exceptional as the whole world is in a crisis mode at the same time. Assure your child that this temporary. Everything will be fine soon. It is just a matter of time before the viral spread slows down as the population gains herd immunity, or we discover a medicinal cure, or we get a vaccine to prevent the disease.

3. Structure: Children thrive on routine and regularity. Since schools are closed, the daily routine and the rhythm of life is disrupted. You can set a schedule for your child. Try to keep the schedule as close to normal as possible. Write on a paper suggested time for eating, studying, playing, exercise, and sleep. Be a role model for them. You follow a disciplined life and stick to a routine. You can influence them more by what you do than what you say.


4. Ask: if you feel your child is getting more depressed, ignoring food, sleep, not talking anxious panic. If you notice any self-destructive behavior like cutting, it very seriously. Do not feel shy about taboo topics. If you think your child is depressed and stressed out- ask if they are feeling suicidal. It is essential as every year, thousands of children commit suicide, which could have been prevented with timely intervention.

5. Healthy Diet- The best way to prevent disease is to follow a healthy lifestyle, which includes nutrition, exercise, and sleep. Have a balanced diet with protein, fats, carbohydrates, and plenty of vegetables and fruits for all essential nutrients. Limit sugar and other processed food as they reduce the body's immunity and make behavioral problems worse.

6. Exercise & Outdoor time: Encourage children to do exercise at home. Try to make it fun and enjoyable, and even better, the entire family can do together. Also, make sure to have some outdoor time. Staying all day indoors is difficult for children, it is bad for their eyes, and increases stress levels. If you have a patio, balcony, terrace, backyard- make sure to spend enough time there as natural light, and fresh air is an excellent stress buster and boosts immunity.


7. Regular Sleep Time: Many teenagers, if given a choice, prefer to stay awake till the middle of the night or early morning, and get up late in the morning. During regular school hours, they have to get up early to catch the school bus. But now, as they do online school, the sleep cycle can quickly get out of hand. I have seen teens staying awake all night and sleeping during the day. Irregular sleep hours result in both poor quality and quantity of sleep. Sleeping at regular hours is even more critical at this time. Sleep boosts the natural killer cells in the body, which helps to fight the virus. Make sure that children go to bed at regular hours. All psychiatric problems like depression, mania, and psychosis get worse due to lack of sleep.


8. Limit Social media Make sure children do not spend too much time on social media. There is a lot of negative news in the media. On top of that, there are many predators out there, and children have to be protected from them. I have seen many teenage girls getting into a relationship with adults online, and send them compromising pictures, and get into other troubles.

9. Avoid Isolation: Since all are staying at home, use this time to do family activates. Make sure to spend some time during the day when the entire family does things together, like doing a joint project. Even mundane house activities like cooking, cleaning, gardening can become excellent family bonding activity if done together.

10. Seek Help: If you feel any concern about the safety of your child, do not wait, seek help. You can contact your family doctor, therapist, or a psychiatrist, or call 911 immediately. Most hospitals have a crisis hotline, and you can call them for a free assessment. Remember, you know your child more than anyone else, and you are their best caregiver, protector, and advocate.

 



Dr. Panchajanya 'Panch' Paul, MD, ABIHM, ABPN, FAPA - is an American Board certified - Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He holds an adjunct faculty position at Emory University School of Medicine; University of Georgia, and University of Central Florida School of Medicine. Call 7704541252 or email georgiapsychiatry@gmail.com to schedule an appointment with Dr.Paul at Georgia Behavioral Health Professionals. He is also the author of 2 books- Stress Rescue and Sleep Coaching available at Amazon.
 




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