Parents and guardians can use the Easter and the school holidays to take time out to discuss fears or anxieties and giving them skills to manage adversity and build resilience, says child and adolescent nursing expert Dr Yvonne Parry.
It’s very important to support our children and young people through times of community difficulty, she says.
“This has been a very difficult year already for children and parents. It’s been impossible for all of us to ignore the effects of the bushfires, drought and now lockdown and global pandemic.
“The holidays are a good time for adults to use this time to engage with their children and families about their concerns.
“Allow them to discuss their feelings by asking them what they are worried about, what is going on, and what lies ahead.
“Always encourage them to deal with difficult times in a positive way, including keeping in touch with friends and family via phone calls or appropriate digital media channels.
“Difficult times always pass, and finding solutions will help them adjust to change.”
Dr Parry says guardians and carers can refer to age appropriate information from reputable sites, such as state health, mental health, coping with coronavirus information, and school or education websites for additional support.
Within the physical distancing, and other COVID-19 restrictions, families can still enjoy outdoor activities and exercise to balance ‘downtime’ leisure activities, interactive video or board games, and reflective activities such as reading or writing.
Dr Parry, from the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University, also suggests some other strategies for the April school holidays.
- Listen to your children’s concerns, and reassure them with positive reinforcement and actions.
- Keep a regular routine, ensuring plenty of sleep and relaxation.
- Serve healthy, nutritional meals and encourage backyard exercise and activity.
- Assist children to stay in virtual touch with friends and family via video calls on Facetime, Skype, etc.
- Organise creative and enjoyable activities to fill the day.
- Plan ahead for media – and COVID-19 news – free times, and ensure at least one hour of screen-free time before bedtime.