As we watch the events of the pandemic unfold around us, it’s only natural to have increased feelings of stress and anxiety. If we as adults feel this way, then of course so would our children as they may not possess the same ability to rationalise the current state of the world. It falls on us as adults to find ways in which to help our children navigate through this period.
Here are a few ways in which we can help our students to manage their stress levels:
Managing your own stress: Children tend to model the behaviour of their parents. And so stressed parents will result in a stressed child. Try and keep the home environment stress free, nurturing and calm. The house should be a safe place for your child. Expressing stress, fear, or anxiety in front of children will only cause them to pick it up. Since children have an underdeveloped frontal cortex their interpretation of the stress can be very different from what was said and can manifest in different ways.
Meditation & Yoga: Yoga can not only help relieve stress and anxiety but also help in increasing productivity and build mindfulness. Some simple breathing exercises like pranayama or chanting has been shown to help children relax and to lower their anxiety levels. It’s never too early to start yoga as all ages can find some benefit from its practice. One can always find fun ways to keep younger children engaged with it. For example, teaching them poses named after animals helps kids relate to the asana. A good resource to learn more is “Yoga Education for Children” by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
Physical Exercise: It is essential for children to run and play. Research shows that an hour of movement a day can have a significant impact on learning and on stress. Exercise stimulates chemical changes in the brain that help enhance mood, thinking and brain function. However given lockdown, one has to come up with inventive ways to get exercise in the house. A few easy options are dance, building an obstacle course using household items, hula-hoop, jump rope, or also inventing indoor sports. If these are not enough, there are many people conducting classes for children via Facebook live or zoom such as physical fitness, taekwondo, and even gymnastics.
Family Time: The silver lining to lockdown is that it has given us a unique opportunity to spend time with our children, one we may not ever get again. Games are a good way for all to spend time together. Games like Pictionary, Scrabble and charades can be fun for children of various ages to participate in. Another way to keep your children engaged is to keep them occupied in the kitchen with interesting recipes, different cooking methods, nutritional value etc. Food is something we all enjoy, no matter what age. Family time is special and unique, so make the most of this opportunity to make it memorable for you and your child. It will help them reduce stress and build a strong familial bond.
– By Rohan Parikh, Director The Green Acres Academy