Handling the situation and Engaging Children during this pandemic (Age Group 6-12)

According to WHO a newly identified type of virus has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19. This is a disease caused by the new corona virus which emerged in China. It spreads from person to person and now it is declared globally as pandemic. As this crisis unfolds we are facing different types of challenges including remaining grounded which might cause emotional and behavioural change.

Children are more vulnerable than adults to the emotional impact of events which are traumatic and which disrupt their daily lives. Children may respond to stress in different ways than adults such as being more anxious, angry, agitated, withdrawing, and irritated etc.

Due to COVID-19 outbreak, everyday life has changed dramatically and it will continue to change for some more time. Children may struggle with significant adjustments to their routines, they have to make changes by facing confinement to home due to no school/ child care closure, and social distancing. Hence they may encounter interfere with their sense of
• Structure( set of rules made at home to follow in their daily routine)
• Predictability( what they expect in their daily routine) and
• Security
In addition of instructing children to keep safe by following common practices of hygiene during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we also need to be very careful to take care of their emotional wellbeing
Children are keen observers of environment and people, they tend to notice and react to stress when they see
their parents, caregivers, peers, and community members exhibiting unusual behaviour/stress/ anxiousness or
panic. They may ask direct questions about what is happening now, what will happen in the future and may
exhibit feelings like fear, sadness, and anger about the pandemic and related conditions. Children may not be
able to express worry related to the safety of self and their loved ones also how they will get their basic needs
met. If adults respond to child’s reactions in a supportive way, listen patiently to their concerns and give them
extra attention and love it will help them to get an understanding of the situation. Receiving consistent
support most of the children eventually return to their typical functioning. Significant mental health concerns
can develop to children who have pre-existing mental conditions, or parent who struggle due to stress/anxiety
or depression or are anxious due to economic instability during the pandemic.
Recourses in Adversity for promoting mental, emotional wellbeing:
• Explain children the fact related to pandemic:
Children will understand more when adults provide them fact, and information about the crisis. Children
should also be briefed why following direction of adults is important, and how failing to do so will involve risk
to their as well as others life. While providing clear information related to risk involved, use age appropriate
words followed by reassurance that they can fight it and world will be better place again.
1. Be there for your children: In this situation when everyone is talking about COVID-19 children will need love
and attention from parents/ caregivers. Give your extra time and attention by making sure they are engaged
with you in different games and entertainment. Like
– let your child pick a topic he/she like and spend 30 mins each day discussing it with them
– Spend time reading picture books you have in the house.
– Make dishes that they feel happy to eat.
– Let your kid write a letter and/or emails to a different friend or family member each day.
– Try making different objects with playdough with them.
– Facetime/ call their friends, grandparents so that they stay connected to others.
– Watch TV with them and the channel they like the most.
– Tell them to write a short story & illustrate it.
– Assist them, how to do simple bookbinding
– Practice some paper origami, and cards for friends and put in the scrap book.
– Do bird watching from the balcony of your house and tell them about them.
You can be creative by picking activities that interest your child. These types of activities will provide them
opportunity to play, relax, and spend some creative time with you.
Note that Re-assurance and using kind words are very important for making children relax when you spend
time with them.
• Keep regular Routine and Schedule: Keep to regular routines and schedules as much as possible, or help
create new ones in a new environment, including school/learning as well as time for safely playing and
• Mind-set shift: Assist children to help them understand that they are safe at home. Lockdown and social
distancing will prevent them from getting terribly sick. A shift in their mind-set will makes things easy for them.
• Keeping Children close to parents and family: if parent are engaged under essential duties and are going to
work, make sure one of the parent or caregivers or an adult is with them and they are not separated from the
family. If separation occurs (e.g. hospitalization) ensure regular contact (e.g. via phone) and re-assurance.
• Seek professional help if children show signs of trauma that do not resolve relatively quickly: If there is a
persistent concern in behaviour and emotions of children, seek professional help. Many mental health
professionals are available and can provide services through different methods like internet conferencing,
telephone or an online platform, when in-person social contact is restricted. All these methods come under the
unique services of “telehealth”.
All things considered, although, the importance of physical care and hygiene is important during this
pandemic. The mental health and wellbeing is equally important. If it is not taken care of it can cause serious
issues impact on children. Don’t you believe that too?


Pallavi Sharma

Development Coach (Team DISHA)

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