Just like previous pandemics, dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak is a challenge. Aside from the primary effects on people’s physical health, some also experience serious impact on their mental state, including those who are COVID-19 positive, those in the vulnerable groups, and even those who consider themselves healthy.
As parents, you want to teach your children to be mindful of their own health for their sake and for everyone’s peace of mind, too. Remember that everyone can be vulnerable to anxiety disorders, depression, and other behavioral problems as it becomes more and more difficult to adopt a new lifestyle amidst the pandemic.
Here’s a guide to help your children become more health-conscious physically, emotionally, and mentally during these times when it matters most.
1. Emphasize the importance of good personal hygiene
The World Health Organization and other health agencies all over the world have been reminding the public that simple precautionary measures like through and frequent washing of hands with soap and water are effective ways of stopping the spread of the virus.
Along with keeping the hands clean, people are also advised to avoid touching the face, especially the nose and mouth, which can be entry points for the virus. Practicing the habit of handwashing has another benefit for your teens who are maybe trying to tackle blackheads, acne, and pimples.
Part of good personal hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic also includes wearing a mask in public places, such as grocery stores, banks, restaurants, and the like. Be sure to check if your children are consistently following these health and safety protocols in case they need to go out, so they can stay protected against COVID-19.
2. Remind them to observe social distancing
Teenagers may not fully understand the importance of social distancing, and it’s your role to make sure that they learn to accept that it’s part of the new normal. Explain to them how risky it is to be surrounded by a lot of people since the virus is transmitted from one person to another.
Even if a person doesn’t show any signs of the illness, it’s still possible that the person is asymptomatically infected and then transfer the virus through close physical contact with others.
As much as possible, advise your children to stay home and instead connect with their friends through the phone or other virtual means. However, if it can’t be helped for them to step out of the house, ask them to keep a safe distance of about 6 feet from people they encounter.
3. Promote living a balanced life
Without a vaccine for the novel coronavirus in sight, a lot of schools are planning to push through with virtual learning systems so that children won’t have to attend classes in person. This means your children will be studying from home—a process that may be entirely new to them.
It may take a while for your teens to adjust to this kind of setup, so you can expect that there will be times when they will not know how to manage their schedules. When this happens, you need to step in to help them establish a routine. The trick is in allotting time for both studies and rest while being flexible enough to let your children do other things in between.
Having some sort of routine or schedule in place can help your children feel a sense of control despite certain uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.
4. Regulate sleeping and eating times
Getting enough quality sleep always yields positive results for physical and mental health. When the body is well-rested, it’s easy for a person to feel calm and relaxed in mind, too. Keep a close watch on your children’s sleeping habits, so that they don’t stay up or wake up too late because then their internal body clock will be disrupted.
Eating a balanced diet is another vital component of a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to plan meals that can supply your children with all the essential vitamins and minerals they need to help ward off coronavirus-related illnesses. Talk to your family doctor about appropriate food supplements to give to your children, too.
Similar to having a more or less fixed bedtime and waking time, you should also advise your children to eat on time and not to eat more than they’re supposed to. Being locked down at home may cause psychological distress, which can show up in various eating disorders, so make sure to keep this in check, as well.
5. Spend quality time together
While no one ever wants to make light of the COVID-19 situation by pointing out what seems to be positive changes in people’s behavior or lifestyle, the truth is the pandemic has slowed everyone down in their pursuit of so many things.
People are staying home a lot these days, companies are allowing employees to work from home, curfew times are making the streets less busy, and so on. Instead of letting the ills of COVID-19 get to you or your children, what you can do is to strive to spend more quality time as a family.
Now, you and your children can look forward to having daily family conversations over lunch or dinner. Use this as an opportunity to get to know your children better—their interests, goals, dreams, and so on—or simply talk about fun stuff to help everyone take their mind off the stresses of the times.
It may also be a good time to teach your children some life skills to keep everyone feeling motivated and productive. With more time in everyone’s hands, there’s no rush or pressure for your children, and instead, they can learn at a much more comfortable pace.
Defeating the Ills of Pandemic with Your Healthy Teens
The COVID-19 health crisis is just as frustrating for your teens as it is for you. At a time when they’re supposed to be going to school, meeting new friends, or pursuing their hobbies, they find themselves not being able to enjoy those activities fully. The brighter side, of course, is that you’re all healthy, and you can always choose to try to cope with the situation until the pandemic is over.