With the pandemic, kids are facing the same anxieties and stresses that adults are. They’re using screen time to cope. Here’s how to swap screen time for activities that boost more mindfulness.
There’s no question the pandemic has taken a toll on mental health for all of us. Feelings of anxiety, fear, boredom, loneliness and/or depression have surfaced because of our routines being disrupted, our kids learning from home, and our social circles shrinking to only those who share our household.
Many of us have learned how to cope with our new realities; we’ve invoked meditation and yoga, working, exercising or reaching out to friends online to keep some of the negative feelings at bay.
It’s a fact: screen time has doubled during the pandemic. Kids have been turning to online games, YouTube, Netflix, TikTok, SnapChat and a multitude of other online activities to fill those gaps where co-curriculars, after school activities and socializing used to be. And that’s not good for our kids’ mental health.
A study of 2000 parents in the US showed that 64% of those surveyed felt their child was more irritable after spending the day on screens.
So, what’s a parent to do? While we can’t change the online learning component, we can make other changes to boost our kids’ mindfulness. Here are some ways to start:
- Keep a routine
- Get kids to join you for yoga and deep breathing
- Schedule family time away from screens
- Continue to plan “playdates”
- Consult the experts for more mindful-based practices
Keep to a routine.
A regular schedule helps maintain a sense of calm and “normalcy” for both kids and adults. Keep to your pre-pandemic schedule by waking and putting kids to bed at the same time every day, joining them for a snack during “recess” while learning from home, taking a lunch break together, having a defined homework time and age-appropriate downtime before bed. If you are going to allow screen time, schedule that in too – with a set start and stop time.
Get kids to join you for yoga and deep breathing.
Cosmic Kids makes yoga and mindfulness a fun activity for kids, with easy-to-follow exercises that involve sharks, superheroes, and likable characters. They offer a 14-day free trial so you can decide if it’s worth subscribing. If you prefer to keep the screen turned off, Jamie from Cosmic Kids demonstrates poses for kids in pictures, or follow these examples of some fun animal poses for kids.
Schedule family time away from screens.
Kids learn by example. So, if you want kids to disconnect from their phones, you’ll need to disconnect from yours.
Start banishing phones from the dinner table. On weekends, make it a point to turn off computers and TVs and go outside. Or, if you’re being advised to stay indoors, break out the good old fashioned board games. Play checkers or chess to sharpen strategic thinking, practice spelling with Scrabble, or even just play a spirited game of cards.
Continue to plan “playdates”.
Social time is huge for kids, so here is the one exception where you might want to let kids spend a little time online.
Depending on where you live, kids may be able to hang out with friends in person, while remaining socially distant. If this isn’t possible, schedule playdates via Zoom, Facetime, or similar apps. Or get creative; there are also fun, free apps for friends to challenge each other to games such as Scrabble (android version also available), Clue (android version also available), and Uno online.
Consult the experts for more mindful-based practices.
International author and educator Eline Snel has conducted extensive research on how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, alleviate stress and anxiety, improve mental focus and fall asleep more easily. Her book Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids and Their Parents takes parents through 11 age-appropriate practices to help boost mindfulness in kids. Leading Edge Seminars will be hosting a webinar led by Eline on January 23, 2021. Parents, teachers, caregivers and professionals are invited to join Eline as she shares insights and demonstrates the basics of her mindfulness for kids method. (More information below.)
Saturday January 23, 2021 • 11:00 am – 2:15 pm EST
International best-selling author Eline Snel will explore exercises and activities to help kids calm down, focus, and stabilize emotions.
Other Upcoming Webinars
Thursday January 21, 2021 • 1:15 pm – 4:30 pm EST
What do you do when your client’s attachment system is too activated? Trauma expert Kathy Steele introduces another model for therapeutic alliance.
Tuesday February 9, 2021 • 1:00 pm – 4:15 pm EST
Explore how to apply mindfulness strategies to aid recovery from addictions and trauma with Valerie Mason-John.