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How to help your child beat the pandemic? Dr Meena Thiagarajan has some tips

Meera Mathews Marrate Meera Mathews Marrate 6 Mins Read

Meera Mathews Marrate Meera Mathews Marrate


Meera Mathews Marrate is a ParentCircle Author has knowledge about parenting.

FICCI Flo Chennai invited Dr Meena Thiagarajan, Apollo Children Hospital, for an informative session with Samanta Dandapani from Parenting Matters, on how to help kids in this critical time. Read on

How to help your child beat the pandemic? Dr Meena Thiagarajan has some tips

We are knee-deep battling the second wave of Coronavirus and looming large in front is the threat of the third wave. Parents are concerned, worried and unsure on how to handle the situation.

In this useful session, Dr Meena Thiagarajan gave her take on how parents can help children during this difficult period.

Q. What can families with young children and infants do?

A. I believe we should follow Covid-19 appropriate behavior at all times. Everyone over the age of 18 should be vaccinated. It’s the only way forward to battle the infection.

When you are outdoors it is imperative to follow the basic preventive steps which are masking, maintaining distancing, repeated hand washing and cough etiquette.  Follow these rules diligently to protect yourself and others.

Q. If your family is affected and you have children and infants at home. What can you do?

A. Isolate the family. If the parents are infected and there are older people in the family, it is better to keep the children with the parents. Don’t expose them to the older people in the family as they are at a higher risk if they get infected due to comorbidities.

Q. It is said that there is going to be a third wave and children are going to be the most affected. Any prevention and protection measures beyond following the Covid-19 prevention guidelines?

A. There is a lot of speculation and at the moment it is unsure how it’s going to unfold. However, the hospitals and doctors are prepared to handle it. At home, parents need to ensure that children are well mentally and physically with whatever they can do in confined spaces.

Parents should help their children build immunity by making sure they eat right and eat healthy. Ensure they sleep right and have adequate rest. Building immunity is not only about having vitamins and medicines, it’s a whole 360-degree thing you need to do for yourself and your children. Make mealtimes interesting and avoid giving them daily routine food.

Most of all enjoy your time together as a family.

Q. We have been stuck indoors for more than a year and a half and children haven’t been getting enough movement and sunlight as a result. Is there any impediment to growth especially with younger children because of this?

A. Sunlight and fresh air are both essential, out of which fresh air more so than the other.

Make use of the spaces available in your building like the garden, rooftop, or balcony. If there is adequate space children can walk or cycle around the building with their masks on. Keep away from harsh sunlight. If required, you can give your children Vitamin D supplements.

Q. Scheduled vaccines for children. In the current conditions, how do we go about it?

A. We need to ensure our newborns are safe and follow the vaccine schedule up to 3.5 months diligently. Ensure you are in a safe environment to get the vaccine done. It’s okay if the vaccinations get delayed by a month or few weeks except the primary ones.

Q. Can a lactating mother take the Covid vaccine?

A. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has sent a clearance from the Govt of India that lactating mothers can take the vaccine.

Q. Can a pregnant mother get vaccinated?

A. Not yet. We haven’t received clearance as yet. But it’ll soon happen.

Q. For children younger than 10, what are the guidelines for wearing the masks especially if they have conditions like asthma?

A. Anybody over the age of 2 can wear a mask. But kids find it uncomfortable wearing masks so to encourage them we can use some positive reinforcements or incentives.

For e.g.

Star chart system: They earn a star whenever they wear a mask. And once they accumulate 10 stars they’ll get a gift as a reward.

Cute masks: Encourage them to wear masks with images of superheroes and cute images.

Visors: You can make them wear small visors that are available on the market

Q. Parents are worried as children are mostly online for learning, interacting, and entertainment. What are the effects of the increase of screen time and is there anything we can do?

A. This is the way forward; we can’t do anything about it. They are prone to eye strain as children sit for over six hours attending online classes and turn to their screens for entertainment and games. So ensure you limit screen time and use big screens like television sets instead of small screens like tabs, phones, etc for their entertainment.

Make sure their posture is right, sit at a safe distance and take a break every half an hour for a minute each.

Q. “Me” time for parents. How do we balance it?

A. Investing in fun family time can also be a good “me” time. Use the time constructively and bond with your kids. Maybe get your child a sapling and help him nurture and grow it. Also, keep an hour aside for yourself.

Q. How can we help young children when they get restless cooped up at home?

A. Remove the monotony from their life. Engage them in household chores, keeping a diary etc. It’s a good time to teach them life skills like cooking etc.

Q. How do we handle sensitive children who are already going through turmoil due to lack of school and meeting friends?

A. Lots of kids have had anxiety issues and it manifests in children in various ways like tummy pain, anorexia etc. Parents should be very sensitive and supportive and try to understand them.  Connect and talk to the child. If parents feel that they aren’t able to help the child it is important to consult a doctor or get counseling.

Q. What would you tell schools regarding Covid sensitization for young children?

A. School should follow the prevention measures followed in a healthcare setup like cleaning up, fumigation of the area and spacing. Schools should ensure kids are masked up, regularly hand washing and maintaining social distance. I would also recommend that schools should avoid lunch and snack breaks. It’ll be good if the sessions are kept between breakfast and lunch.

Q. Being stuck at home has led kids to consume more junk food and change of eating habits. How do we avoid an eating disorder and balance things?

A. It is more important to eat the right quality of food more than quantity. It’s okay if they eat junk food but ensure they don’t eat it in excess. Some form of exercise indoors will be recommended.

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