Red Cross Sint Maarten is here to bring you some tips and ideas on how to keep on top of your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel while staying at home.
- Stay informed
- Watch your health
- Cope by activities
- Create a daily routine
- Caring for children during a crisis
5. Caring for children during a crisis
Factors that influence the emotional impact on children in emergencies
The amount of damage caused by the effects of a hazard can be overwhelming. Hazards, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes can be easily seen by children. However this hazard, COVID-19 and the crisis it’s been causing is a bit different and harder to explain.
The separation from school, family, and friends can create a great amount of stress and anxiety for children.
The emotional impact of an emergency on a child depends on a child’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the family and community, and the availability of local resources. Not all children respond in the same ways. Some might have more severe, longer-lasting reactions. The following specific factors may affect a child’s emotional response:
- Direct involvement with the emergency
- Previous traumatic or stressful event
- Belief that the child or a loved one may die
- Loss of a family member, close friend, or pet
- Separation from caregivers
- Physical injury
- How parents and caregivers respond
- Family resources
- Relationships and communication among family members
- Repeated exposure to mass media coverage of the emergency and aftermath
- Ongoing stress due to the change in familiar routines and living conditions
- Cultural differences
- Community resilience
Pay close attention to your children and try to communicate with them to understand how the current situation is currently making them feel to be able to know what kind of support they will be in need of.
What you can do to help children cope with a crisis
Dealing with difficult issues is never easy, even less when having to taking care of your fears and those of your kids all at once.
Which is why it’s important that as adults we set an example for our children by managing our stress through healthy lifestyle choices, such as; eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol, is critical for parents and caregivers. When you are prepared, rested, and relaxed you can respond better to unexpected events and can make decisions in the best interest of your family and loved ones.
Here’s what you can do:
Before a hazard affects you:
- Talk to your children so that they know you are prepared to keep them safe.
- Review safety plans before an emergency happens. Having a plan will increase your children’s confidence and help give them a sense of control.
During the crisis:
- Stay calm and reassure your children.
- Talk to children about what is happening in a way that they can understand. Keep it simple and appropriate for each child’s age.
After the crisis:
- Provide children with opportunities to talk about what they went through or what they think about it. Encourage them to share concerns and ask questions.
- You can help your children feel a sense of control and manage their feelings by encouraging them to take action directly related to the crisis. For example, children can help others after a crisis, including volunteering to help community or family members in a safe environment.
- It is difficult to predict how some children will respond to crisis events. Because parents, teachers, and other adults see children in different situations, it is important for them to work together to share information about how each child is coping after a traumatic event.
Source: CDC (2020)
Online ideas and activities to help kids cope with stress
To keep children’s mind off of things, there are many fun activities that you can do with them to keep them active, busy and connected with friends and family, all while social distancing and staying home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
For younger children
- Make a painter’s tape maze on the carpet, for use with toy cars and trucks.
- Download templates for an indoor scavenger hunt (or make your own) and stay inside!
- “Draw” pictures on the walls with flashlights and see if others can guess what they are.
- Using a whiteboard or pad of paper, let your child teach you; this is a great way for them to practice their own skills and retain knowledge.
- Plant seeds in cups and set in a sunny spot to get an early start on the summer vegetable garden. 🌱
- Check out our website for colouring sheets!
For older children
- Bake cookies and other treats.
- Assign older kids the task of chores such as cooking, washing the dishes or assisting with the laundry.
- Take this opportunity to check in with older kids on how they’re doing in general, making sure to listen fully. Being stuck at home can be especially difficult for teenagers.
- Use YouTube to learn skills: origami, music lessons, dance tutorials, and much more.
- Check out our word search and crossword puzzles on our website.
For all ages
- Build puzzles together.
- Use FaceTime and other apps to virtually connect with friends for socializing or studying.
- Build a fort and use it for play or as a reading nook.
- Play board games.
For more ideas or examples of activities you can check online. A quick search of the internet will reveal lots of virtual experiences that families can enjoy from the comfort of home. Zoo and aquarium web cams, museum tours, concerts, and much more are at our fingertips now more than ever. Keeping everyone engaged can make this time at home much more enjoyable as we all do our part to help flatten the curve.