Our pediatrician, Dr. Kinga Jókay, offers tips on how parents can help children survive and thrive in the current environment.
The vast majority of children who contract Cocid-19 infection have either very mild symptoms, or none at all. It is extremely rare that a child needs hospitalization for Covid-19 disease. However, it is still imperative that those under 18 years of age comply with the hygiene and social distancing regulations, because they are able to transmit disease to those who are less able to fight it off. Even seemingly well children can infect a grandparent, a neighbor on immunosuppressive therapy, or a teacher with a chronic illness.
Although coronavirus disease has left the pediatric population relatively unscathed, living a Covid lifestyle can predispose children to a myriad of physical and mental health issues. I am seeing a sharp rise in visits for recurrent headaches, chronic belly pain, anxiety, sadness, disordered sleeping, tics, fatigue and demotivation.
Online learning strips the educational process of the social component (I would venture to say, the “fun part”) of school: running around the playground, eating lunch with friends, participating in after-school sports and musical activities. Off-campus recreational activities are also limited by the pandemic: museums are closed, cultural events are cancelled, no one is hosting parties or play-dates. Add to this a parent who feels financially insecure, or worried about an ill relative, and it is no wonder our children are under a lot of stress!
So what is a parent to do? How can we keep our kids happy and healthy? I can condense my take-home message into two words: decrease screen-time.
Even in the best of times, a minimum of one hour of active play or exercise is recommended for all children, and this is even more essential during the pandemic.
It is well-documented that physical activity helps improve sleep, reduces the risk of depression, decreases anxiety, and even improves concentration, self-esteem and cognition. Exercise, especially exercise outside in sunshine, increases endorphins, the so-called “happiness hormones.” So take your children out every single day!
Ideas for outside:
- Take the scooter to Margit Island (hot drinks, food and toilet facilities available).
- Do a scavenger hunt in the Castle District.
- Walk the dog on Hajógyári Sziget (where the Sziget festival is held).
- Take the chairlift on János hill, and walk up to the look-out. (hot drinks, food and toilet facilities available).
- Cross-country ski or sled at Normafa. (hot drinks, food and toilet facilities available)
- Take a hike with your teenagers: multiple beautiful trails on the Buda side and beyond (Vác, Visegrád, Balaton, etc).
- Let your toddler zoom down the ramp on his trike at the new Széllkapu park, next to Mammut shopping center.
Ideas for inside:
- Take a walk in the mall, buy a small gift.
- Learn a new active skill on Youtube: like yoga, or belly dancing.
- If you are musically inclined, introduce your child to playing an instrument.
- Have your son paint his bedroom the vivacious colors of his choice.
- Teach your daughter how to sew.
- Have your children learn how to prepare a simple meal.
- Play board games or cards.
- Do anything BUT sit in front of a screen!!!