Keeping Stay-at-Home Kids Healthy
Kids stuck at home due to coronavirus pandemic? Here are some ways to keep them mentally and physically fit.
With so many school closures, kids across the world are staying at home and/or doing remote learning. A study just published in The Lancet notes that “Although these measures and efforts are highly commendable and necessary, there are reasons to be concerned because prolonged school closure and home confinement during a disease outbreak might have negative effects on children's physical and mental health.”
Kids who are out of school tend to be less physically active, The Lancet reports, have increased screen time, irregular sleep patterns, and don’t eat food that is as healthy. If you’ve been affected by a school closure in your area, here are some ways to keep your kids healthy both mentally and physically.
Exercise with Them
If it’s possible to get outside, head on out. This is the perfect opportunity to take a walk or bike ride together. Shoot some hoops in the driveway, try out that jump rope—the activity itself isn’t as important as simply moving children’s bodies. Outdoor exercising address the mental health problem of feeling confined or having a lack of personal space and helps keep their cardiovascular systems healthy. If the weather doesn’t permit this, have a dance party in your kitchen or do an online yoga class together. For very young kids, try physical games like Simon Says.
The entire world is feeling anxious right now, so it’s only natural that kids are prone to anxiety and depression. Try this “Video: Meditation for Kids.”
“Children are constantly exposed to epidemic-related news, so having direct conversations with children about these issues could alleviate their anxiety and avoid panic,” the study notes. It’s much better for kids to hear things from you, their most important and trusted resource, than from a TV blaring, a radio in the car, or for older kids, scrolling through social media. Limit the amount of news you take in as an adult, too, so you can stay calm for your family. Remember, you are the gatekeeper for your brain. (See “5 Ways to Moderate Your News Intake.”)
Strengthen Family Bonds
According to the study, “Home confinement could offer a good opportunity to enhance the interaction between parents and children, involve children in family activities, and improve their self-sufficiency skills.” Take the opportunity to play board games, listen to a fun podcast, snuggle and read, and do chores together. To ensure the family is eating healthfully, cook together and encourage older kids to practice their own cooking skills. (Here are some healthy snack ideas for kids, based on Ayurvedic principles.)
While this is a scary time for parents, and for kids, try to focus on any of the silver linings we can find. Many of us often wish we had more quality time with our families, so take advantage of this moment in time.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, our staff writer and resident yoga expert Julie Peters is live streaming all yoga classes, for free, from her studio Ocean and Crow on Facebook Live.