Experts and parents suggest solutions to relieve stress for children during pandemic
People often assume children are unaffected by the stresses caused by coronavirus, but long periods at home can lead to mental and behavioral problems
After over a month of struggling to look after her two children, who must take an early summer vacation due to the pandemic, Nguyen Thanh from Hanoi feels stressed.
Aside from designing educational activities, Thanh has to frequently intervene in her children’s disputes while working from home.
“Had it not been due to the pandemic, I would have let my kids attend summer programs and enjoy outdoor activities. None of these is possible now due to Covid-19,” Thanh said.
Stress due to extensive stay-at-home periods
Thanh said her children are primary school students. At their age, quarrel with each other over the smallest things. The easiest way to address this issue is to give each a smartphone, but Thanh and her husband are afraid their children might become addicted to the flickering screens.
Photo: Children playing at home / Dangcongsan.vn
In another case, D, a 6-year-old, lives in an apartment building in Hanoi. The building has been locked down as some residents have Covid.
D’s grandmother said her grandchild just wants to watch television and play video games on whenever he has to stay home due to Covid-19 outbreaks. D become more disobediant at such times.
“Recently, he has become very distracted. My husband and I have mixed feelings: We are angry, but we understand why he behaves that way. We don’t really know what to do,” said the child's grandmother.
Dr. Tran Thanh Nam, a psychologist at Vietnam National University, said anyone can feel mentally strained if they have to stay at home extensively.
“Science has proved that social distancing periods of more than 14 days can impact one’s mental state. Children under 10 are more likely to be affected because they don't have good control of their emotions yet. They don’t know how to direct their energy and attention to clearly defined personal plans," Tran said.
Detailed schedules help children
To reduce boredom, Tran suggests parents make detailed schedules with their children. Parents should let them take the initiative and provide suggestions as necessary. The schedules should provide a balance between physical activities, studying and entertainment.
For physical activities, Tran said that parents can exercise with their children or assign them to water plants. Parents should let children choose when and what summer study assignments to do first, but remind them to complete assignments on time. For entertainment, parents can let their children choose a movie to watch at night or a book to read.
Photo: Parents and children reading together / Baotuyenquang.com.vn
Bo Con Sau, a Facebook page with 300,000 likes, suggests installing indoor bars for children to improve their fitness.
“These bars don’t take up much space. They can improve children’s endurance and height. Kids will have a great time playing with bars while being stuck at home,” said the page owner.
Bo Con Sau also recommends parents attach the bars to the walls or products from natural wood. Because industrial wood is elastic, the bars may fall out when children are playing. Parents should also remind their children to swing in the direction in which the bars are fixed. They should attach the bars at a suitable height so their children can touch the bars when standing on tiptoe.
Monitorinf high-tech devices
Tran believes it is impossible today to prohibit children from using smartphones or tablets completely.
Instead, parents should guide their children on how to use high-tech devices appropriately. They should set up rules like spending a maximum of 15 minutes per week to watch videos on Youtube. The videos that children can watch should be beneficial and educational. Parents should set alarms so children are aware of when their watching time is over.
When children are watching short videos, parents should not force them to stop mid-way. Instead, parents should tell their children to turn off the devices when the videos end.
"For videos that last more than 30 minutes, parents should tell their children when there are five minutes or two minutes left for watching, so they can be aware of the time limit. If parents stop the videos suddenly, their children might feel dissatisfied and fight back,” said the Bo Con Sau Facebook page owner.
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