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5 Clear Signs Your Child Is Not Coping Well With Community Quarantine
PHOTO BY Ellie Nakazawa/Flickr Creative Commons
  • It will now be almost a month since we went into community quarantine. At some point during the past 21 days, we have felt the stress of COVID-19. We live in fear of infection when we go out. We wonder about daily survival and mobility. And we worry about the impact this quarantine will have on our jobs.

    Do not forget, however, that kids can experience anxiety over the current situation like adults. After all, kids now have to stay at home, cannot go to school, cannot see, and play with their friends, and that can be a distressing situation.

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    Signs of stress in a child 

    Your child's stress will not always seem obvious, and that's why parents need to be their guard. Save the Children Philippines reminds parents and guardians to observe and talk to children during this time as they may also experience fear or anxiety that manifests in many ways depending on their stage of development.

    According to Save the Children, some of the common reactions of children to a stressful event are:

    • Clinging to parents or guardians
    • Regression to younger behavior like thumb sucking or bedwetting
    • Disturbances in sleeping or eating patterns
    • Increased crying and irritability
    • Becoming withdrawn or hyperactive

    Atty. Alberto Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines, said kids need to know about age-appropriate information on COVID-19 pandemic. It will help them understand the reasons for the community quarantine and to ease their feelings of uneasiness and fears. Sharing age-appropriate information about COVID-19 pandemic will also help children understand that complying with mitigation measures will contribute to the national and global efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. (Read more here how to talk to kids about COVID-19.)

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    How to help children cope with COVID-19 stress

    Wilma Banaga, child protection advisor of Save the Children Philippines, said parents' top priority is to make their kids feel safe. Hugs or soothing words will assure them that you are there to protect them and ease the stress they feel.

    Show kids how they can keep themselves safe

    World Vision Philippines says it would be good to demonstrate to children how they can keep themselves safe. Show kids the right way to wash their hands, how to disinfect if they come in contact with potentially infected items or persons, even how to prepare fruits before eating. You and your spouse can also show proper social distancing and stand one meter apart, so your kids will have a better idea. Talk to them how staying put at home can help.

    Banaga says sharing with your kids all these factual information shows them how they can contribute to stopping a global health pandemic. Children deal with stressful situations better when they know what to do and how to do it. 

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    Tell your child there is nothing wrong with what he is feeling

    Banaga says kids stress less when they have the right information. (Be careful, however, of overwhelming them.) Listen to the child’s questions and worries to have an informed conversation. Banaga advised validating your child's feelings while reassuring him.

    Tell your child: “I know you are irritable right now because you are getting bored that we cannot go out. I understand that feeling. We are all experiencing that as well, but we can do some fun activities together inside the house. Do you have any suggestions?”

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    Or “I understand you are afraid, and it is okay to be afraid because the situation is scary. But people in government all over the world are working together to find a solution to this situation as soon as possible. Many people who get sick also recover, and we are doing our part to help in not spreading the virus by staying at home.”

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    Help children find positive ways to express disturbing feelings

    According to World Vision, this new normal will take time to adjust, so monitor your kids closely and invite them to sing, draw, or pursue artistic activities that allow for expression. Try it yourself, so you’ll know that it really works!

    Do more things together at home and online  

    We may be stuck home, but thankfully, technology lets families apart keep in touch. Banaga adds limit “me” activities, and create a lot of “we” times online and at home.

    Open your cabinets and look for board games, puzzles, and other activities that you can do together. Take a tour of virtual museums as a family. Make opportunities for children to play and relax. Do not make it all about learning – create playtime too.

    World Vision highly recommends having regular and frequent contact (via phone and video calls) and reassurance. If your kids' grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins are all staying in different homes, take advantage of online connections.

    Keep regular routines or help your kids create new ones. Read this helpful article on how to make a routine schedule from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


    Save the Children is conducting online consultations with children in resettlement sites in Pasay, Tanay, Rizal and Naic, Cavite to understand how mitigation measures such as class suspensions, community quarantine, and social distancing are affecting their lives. The consultation will also promote awareness on personal hygiene, social distancing, and cough etiquette to children and their families.

    World Vision committed to support at least 100 health facilities with basic health facility disinfectant kits and provide medical frontliners, including barangay health emergency response teams with personal protective equipment.

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