How to Build Child Resilience and Evade Mental Disorders in Children

Dr. Sneha Ganatra
November 03, 2020

Like adults, children too are prone to worry, fear, stress, and anxiety. Uncertain times, such as those relating to the recent spread of the pandemic, can cause emotional upheaval in children. Worry about family members contracting the disease, missing school friends, and disrupting of routine due to study at home are common thoughts that effect a child’s psyche. Unfortunately, an increase in fear, loneliness and uncertainty can lead to a rise in mental disorders in children. However, as a parent you can turn the tables and undertake a concentrated effort to build child resilience.

What is child resilience?

It is inculcating within your children skills that help them cope with hardship and stress. The good part is that young children are highly impressionable. So, instead of just trying to evade disorders in children, you can take this opportunity to nurture a stronger generation. However, helping children navigate through the ups and downs of daily life isn’t easy when daily life isn’t predictable anymore. In spite of this, here are 5 ways to build child resilience amid the pandemic.

Make time for your kids

Children desire relationships and emotional connections. Though social distancing measures mean a lack of peer activity, this is an opportunity for you to work on some quality one-on-one time. At the raw end of the scale, psychological disorders in children show up in the form of Post-traumatic Stress Disorders or Conduct Disorders. To nip mental health problems in the bud, a strong supportive relationship can go a long way.

Carving out time from your already busy schedule is a must if your child is to enjoy emotional security during uncertainty. When both parents make time for their children, inner strength is born out of relationships that truly mean well for each other.

Also Read: Stress Symptoms

Give your child a break (offline)

Being a child today is demanding. With no prior warning, children have been asked to switch to online modes of education, online modes of communication, and so on. Even as authorities recommend limiting screen time to just about 2 hours a day, the fact of the matter is that children may land up spending a lot more. Attending e-school, e-tuition, figuring out online platforms etc., all demand time and mental effort.

Since learning has shifted online, its best to push recreation and entertainment offline. Indoor board games work very well and if you’re lucky enough to have a safe outdoor space, then open-air games and exercise is great. Activity and exercise is actually key to child resilience. When children and adults exercise, cortisol and adrenaline are released. These are the same hormones released during stress states and so, children who exercise are more comfortable in moving in and out of such states.

Focus on hope and gratitude

It is said that the most difficult form of arithmetic is counting one’s blessings. At a time when childhood psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression are becoming more common, it is important to look for the silver lining. Shifting the spotlight from fear to hope and happiness is a great way to start.

Also Read: How to Differentiate Between Feeling Low and Depression

So, you could make an effort to centre your conversations on the good things your child learnt that day or the good things he or she did for others. You could even read and discuss news that is hopeful and happy. Another way to channel your child’s energy positively is encouraging him or her to help classmates cope with online schooling. It can be tempting to focus on the negative, but history tells us that the most resilient persons are those who are able to focus on and find the positive even in extreme adversity.

Set strict rules for sleep

Quality sleep is a stress buster and can prevent mental disorders in children from surfacing. Children are probably not likely to intake stimulants like caffeine before bedtime, but what they could surely be falling prey to is using digital devices at night. Why is this bad? Devices like PCs, laptops and smartphones emit a blue light that ultimately suppresses the release of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. So, the end result is that your child has spent a chunk of time on an e-device and delayed his or her internal sleep mechanism.

So, while these devices can be ‘stimulating’, in the long run, you could be compromising on concentration, decision-making functions and memory – all key ingredients to child resilience.

Set routine in motion

Children need a sense of structure to their daily lives. Predictability and consistency are good and creating an environment that provides positive stimulation should be your goal. Unfortunately, with the closures of schools across the country, a huge chunk of your child’s daily routine hangs in the balance. So, while you set rules for sleep, set some for the rest of the day as well.

Having goals and working towards some sense of accomplishment is key. It is true that much is uncertain today, but your child’s daily routine needn’t be a blank slate either. Idleness and the lack of motivation that a structure provides can create room for worry, anxiety, depression, and a host of disorders in children. So, as you consider the above tips, chalk out a schedule and allot time for things like:

  • Meals
  • E-learning
  • Exercise
  • Games
  • Sleep
  • One-on-one with friends and family

Also Read: What is Anxiety and How to Manage It?

Even as 90% of the world’s school children have been disrupted by COVID-19 and societies grapple with what it will take to return to normal life, these 5 tips are sure to help you raise a resilient child. For medical help on building child resilience, you can download the Bajaj Finserv Health app. It puts you in touch with doctors online and gives you the facility of e-consultations as well. The app also works as your personalised health manager with standout features like medicine reminders, symptom trackers, and more.
So, make use of all the help you can during this uncertain time to build a strong and resilient child!