COVID-19 lockdown is tough on kids. Here’s what parents can do

WATCH: Psychotherapist Roxanne Francis explains the physical and emotional toll the COVID-19 pandemic is having on kids.

Kids across the country have been cooped up at home for months now due to the novel coronavirus, and some experts worry the pandemic may have physical and emotional implications.

“A lot of children have been struggling with their mental health … increased anxiety and depression,” psychotherapist Roxanne Francis told the hosts of Global News’ The Morning Show.

“(It’s) a result of a loss of routine. They’re no longer in class, they’re no longer seeing their friends, their teachers, and it’s really having a negative impact on them.”

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Children rely on routine and structure, Francis said, and the last few months have been the complete opposite.

“For children, routine and scheduling and knowing what’s coming next … gives them a sense of predictability and safety,” Francis said.

Lots of kids are also spending more time online due to COVID-19 restrictions keeping them at home, and this is presenting a series of new problems.

In June, ParticipACTION launched the 14th edition of its Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth — and the results were concerning.

According to the study, the majority of Canadian children and youth still aren’t meeting national guidelines on physical activity and movement behaviour – and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it worse.

The comprehensive assessment gave Canadian kids age five to 17 a D+ for overall physical activity, finding 39 per cent are meeting national guidelines of getting 60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous activity.

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How are Canadian kids holding up amid COVID-19?

According to Francis, communication is key when it comes to getting your kids to be physically and mentally stronger.

“Children, especially teenagers, will act as if they’re uninterested, but they really need their parents’ input,” Francis said.

“Quite often, the long hours online … can result in mood irregularities, irritability … anxiety and depression, a decrease in self-esteem.”

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Francis says parents should make an effort to discuss these problems with their kids in an open, caring manner.

“Institute some changes … family game nights, bike rides together, yoga together, bake with your children,” she said. “They may seem, as they’re getting older, like they’re pulling away … but they do need your input.”

The lack of physical activity is beginning to have a “detrimental effect” on Canadian kids, Francis said — physically, but mentally too.

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“Kids are spending many hours in front of the screens … quite often after parents have gone to bed,” Francis said, and this is creating a vicious cycle.

Now, without any school to go to in the morning, kids can wake up when they want to and go to bed at whatever time they please — allowing for more screentime at odd hours.

“As parents, get involved. Talk with them, encourage them, ask them what’s going on in their game world, in their social media world,” Francis said.

“You’ll be surprised what they tell us if we just ask.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include but are not limited to: fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With files from Global News’ Daniella Ponticelli

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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