‘The new normal’ – Helping kids through COVID-19 post lockdown

As government eases restrictions and announces that schools will reopen, parents are anxious about preparing their kids to the new reality we face. They are challenged with creating ‘a new normal’ were kids can still salvage their childhood while combatting Covid-19. Here are a few guidelines to help parents prepare children for life post lockdown. Parents should not project their own anxiety onto their children but rather equip them with the necessary information and support to face the new norm.

Step 1:

  • Educate yourself as a parent with factual knowledge about Covid-19.
  • Use a special time to discuss some of their worries. This could be at bed-time or time alone with a particular sibling.
  • Start with all the positives about being in lockdown (e.g. extra family time) and then move on to discuss if they think lockdown should remain forever. This will be a good opportunity to assess if your child wants to return to school or how they feel about reintegrating with society post lockdown.

Step 2:

  • Listen carefully to what your child is feeling.
  • Identify if they are feeling scared, anxious, nervous or confused.
  • Validate how they feel and share if you as parents have similar feelings. Discuss ideas of what you have done to cope with these feelings.
  • You don’t need to solve their problems, rather listen, be present with them, show compassion and reassure them.

Step 3:

  • Remind them of the steps you took together during lockdown to keep the family safe.
  • Talk about how you as a parent will continue to keep them safe, how teachers will keep them safe and how the government is also working towards keeping them safe.
  • Talk about current things that are happening. Don’t be afraid to ask your child what they think is happening. Use this opportunity to correct misinterpretations.
  • Encourage questions and answer truthfully and age appropriately.
  • Talk about things that are in their control to keep themselves safe (This is a good time to talk about basic hygiene, social distancing, wearing a mask)

Step 4:

  • Allow children to be sad about the things they miss and give them time to grieve.
  • Encourage them to make room for new memories and opportunities by letting go of the sad.

Step 5:

  • Prepare and talk to them about life outside the home post lock-down.
  • Give concrete examples of school, birthday parties, family outings etc.

Step 6:

  • Create opportunities for optimism and hope and be role models for your children.

Don’t ignore the impact this is having on our teenagers.  They may feeling nostalgic about friends/school, disconnected, nervous, anxious and most of all struggle with boredom.  Create opportunities to have conversations with them, make them feel heard, ask if they need help with anything, show compassion and understanding.

If children display significant changes in behavior or display the following symptoms for more than two weeks, please contact me for assistance.

Bedwetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, regression in behavior, aggressiveness, withdrawal from activities or friends, poor concentration.

Written by: Rehana Mahomed
Social Worker
Kings Park Sport Medical Center
Tel: 0731817964

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