According to UNICEF data, children might not be the face of this pandemic, but they risk being among its biggest victims as their lives are changed in profound ways. This universal crisis, for some children, will have a lifelong impact on their health and well-being.
Lack of outdoor exposure, fresh air and inadequate sunlight can affect children mentally and physically. Movement and physical activity during their growing up years are crucial for development of bones, muscles, heart and lungs. It develops motor control skills, which helps perform fundamental movements daily.
Besides, cardiovascular health, weight management, improved posture along with mental benefits like brain development, coordination, good reflexes and self-confidence are some benefits your child experiences with activities that physically and mentally challenge the body and mind.
Increased screen time, because of online school during the pandemic, has affected eyesight with many needing an increased eye power. To reduce the effects, make sure your child’s laptop as well as yours face a window. Every few minutes stare at the furthest point outside the window and then get back to the screen. This prevents over straining the eyes leading to short-sightedness with the additional benefit of some fresh air.
Here are some eye exercises that can be done as an add-on by parents along with their children to maintain better vision.
Look at the tip of the thumb and vertically make a figure of eight.
Repeat making a figure of eight, this time horizontally.
Keep a pair of eye cups filled with water handy. Blink and shut the eyes in the water to rinse the eyes twice a day. This gives a cooling effect and retains moisture in the eyes, which dries up with too much exposure to screen light.
It is also essential for children and parents to be well-hydrated. It supports optimal brain function, good digestion and strengthens the immune system. Dehydration can occur even indoors.
Adding physical activities and games during the day motivates the child and parents to move indoors. Every parent should try to get some exercise by partnering up with their children. It is a great way to spend quality time and engage with them besides becoming fit. Even grandparents can join grandchildren, in whatever manner possible; easy movements will keep the joints free from stiffness, apart from spending loving fun time with each other.
Make indoor exercises and activities a priority for your family. Do some mountain climbers and squat jumps with your child. Race from one end of the room to the other doing the bear crawl.
Remember you are the role model for your child. If the parent is lazy, sedentary and stressed, a child picks up these lifestyle habits subconsciously. Whatever children are exposed to during growing years that decides their future.
A stressed parent in a negative environment breeds emotions of fear that are picked up by children. This is also an unusual time where the number of deaths have suddenly escalated and news of such events subconsciously play on a child’s insecure mind. Exposure to adverse childhood experiences have been known to have effects of lifelong physical and mental health problems. Activity brings cheer as it secretes serotonin, the happy hormones.
Social distancing policies make children feel isolated, moody and they sometimes overreact. Playful activities and exercise is a great way to make them burn all their energy while remaining cheerful to offset the lack of social interactions.
Boredom sets in with a lack of external social exposure, which can be a good learning experience for children, but at the same time can trigger a need to cling to the parents as the only source of joy and entertainment available. The lasting effects of this pandemic can make children, adults and seniors lazy and inactive, so break that spell. Safeguarding the future health and well-being of our children and ourselves is eventually our responsibility.
(Shikha Puri Arora is a rehab trainer, posture, ergonomic consultant and your support from injury to fitness based on real science. You can write to her on email@example.com)