‘Protect kids from negative effects of home quarantine’

Many people overlook the fact that children suffer from the repercussions and pressures of home quarantine and deprivation of celebrations, in this case, Eid-ul-fitr, given that parents are the basis for either joy, tranquility and stability or fear, depression, instability and negative emotions in the home environment.

Regarding the effects of home quarantine on children psychology, Dr. Zaina Al-Zabin, a Child and Family Psychologist, explained that children have the great ability to adjust and adapt to any environment in which they are placed. Despite their ability to notice a change in their routine and limited movement during the quarantine period, they will often adapt to the situation if they get proper support, which includes family stability and a positive spirit.

Since children learn from adults through mimicking, parents must control their negative feelings, personal issues and nervousness in a bid to maintain family stability.

They must remember their role of being the source of safety and confidence in children’s lives as well as the source of emotions, feelings and mood balance of their children. Dr. Al-Zabin acknowledged the possibility for an adult to feel like he has reached the stage of being unable to control his nerves, hypertension and negativity.

She said, “In this case, such a person must first acknowledge being in such a mental state and then speak to a close person in order to get support and help in children’s affairs. He should then practice ways to get rid of such negative energy and find calm and tranquility, for instance by taking deep breathing exercises, reading holy books, talking to a close person, listening to music, painting, exercising or practicing a favorite hobby.”

Dr. Al-Zabin stressed the importance of creating a variety of daily routines for children, explaining that children must be involved in choosing the activities that the parents recommend to them. They must also ask what the children would prefer to do, and then set a schedule with a date for each of the agreed activities. However, the schedule must include the following:-

1. Time to release energy – This entails practicing any kind of sports or motor games. This can be done even in an apartment or a small room where children can skip rope, or perform physical exercises, preferably in a fun environment such as songs or the participation of everyone in the house.

2. Time to release emotions – This requires allocation of time for parents to sit with their children and give them full attention as opposed to fiddling with the phone or watching TV during that period. The goal is to consolidate ties and trust, and teach children how to express their feelings; for example, asking about things that bothered or elated them during the week, or about things that make them happy, tense, or afraid.

3. Time for education – This entails doing an educational activity such as reading a story, counting numbers, solving math problems, or learning a new language, etc. This period does not require formal setting or relying on a pen and paper, but the parents must be creative and knowledgeable in creating fun and diverse educational methods by using a range of tools available at home.

4. Time for creativity – This entails practicing a hobby that children love or desire such as drawing, cooking, singing, acting, or crafting. It is recommended for children to be responsible for carrying out all these activities as it teaches them to be independent, responsible and learn selfcontrol, as well as provides them with a sense of achievement and success.

Dr. Al-Zabin said such activities and preparation of schedules for them would limit the time children spend on televisions, laptops and smartphones, as allowing them to have more screen time–despite the sense of calmness it brings in the house– would affect them psychologically, turn them into introverts, and make them prefer isolation, as well as weaken their social and emotional skills.

She encouraged parents and guardians to focus on the importance of hugging their children and showing empathy as they promote psychological and emotional stability for both adults and children.

Dr. Al-Zabin also advised parents to avoid using a commanding tone especially with teenagers, but to instead encourage them to participate such as by inviting teenagers to participate in an activity, adding that parents should not to force the teenagers if they refuse to participate but instead should start the activity and enjoy it as the teenager watches which would encourage him or her to participate next time.

She stressed that teaching young children social communication skills is essential, and this can be done by setting weekly dates during which they talk on the phone with their peers or their family members.

Dr. Al-Zabin urged parents to ensure children sleep properly at night, and not to allow them to stay up all night as this can have a negative impact on their psychological and physical development.

Source : Arab Times

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