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COVID-19: Family Life Under Lockdown

April 29, 2020

 For the past several weeks, the coronavirus has challenged us to reorganize our entire lives. Here are a few tips to help you manage your family life under lockdown.

Take some time to talk it over as a family

  • Answer your children’s questions and give them the straight facts. Stay neutral and give age‑appropriate answers.
  • Acknowledge their fears. Don’t downplay their emotions. Acknowledge that your children are also dealing with a sense of loss (for example, a cancelled school trip or not being able to see their friends).
  • If your child is anxious, try to understand why, and then reframe the situation or put things in perspective if necessary.
  • If you have teenagers, try asking them questions instead of imposing your own ideas. It’s a good opportunity to help them develop their critical thinking skills and to get them to assess the credibility of their news sources.
  • Keep in mind that you don’t have to share everything with your kids. For someone who is not anxious to begin with, information overload can spark anxiety and do more harm than good.

Key points

Feeling anxious and stressed is NORMAL. These feelings occur when we are faced with a threatening or unusual situation (as is the case with COVID‑19). The important thing is to keep these emotions under control.

Take action!

  • Set a routine. For many people—especially those who struggle with anxiety—knowing what will happen during the day can be reassuring.
  • Since your family’s schedule has been turned upside down, set clear rules. Rules help reduce anxiety for the same reason as routines do.
  • Encourage a sense of responsibility. Focusing on what your children can do gives them a sense of control over the situation, which can help relieve their anxiety.
  • Keep your kids intellectually stimulated. Keep in mind that school work is not the only way to give their brains a workout: changing a tire, cooking or learning a new language can also keep those synapses firing!
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Don’t forget to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep.

Information and screen time: Moderation is key!

  • Use technology wisely. A number of programs and apps, such as Skype, Messenger and Zoom, make it possible to have video conferences with loved ones. There are also educational platforms available online.
  • As much as possible, set and enforce clear limits on your kids’ screen time. For example, consider setting a schedule.
  • Keep an eye on the sources of information your children use. Some unreliable sources can mislead them and cause anxiety.
  • Do not leave the TV on all the time. While it’s important to stay informed, watching non‑stop coverage of the crisis will only increase anxiety.

 

In collaboration with

 

References

Brunet, C. “COVID-19 : l’anxiété chez les enfants,” Canal Vie, [Online], 2020.

Beaulieu-Pelletier, G. and F.-L. Philippe, Parler de la COVID-19 aux enfants : gérer les impacts psychologiques, [Online], 2020.

Descheneaux, N. “Ados et parents pendant la COVID-19 : revoir la vie de famille,” Canal Vie, [Online], 2020.

Sampson, X. “Comment éviter l’angoisse du coronavirus aux enfants?,” Radio-Canada, [Online], 2020..