How do you spend a confinement or quarantine with children?
Published: 24 March, 2020 - Updated: 1 February, 2021 | 6'
One of the first measures introduced in Spain during a major health emergency, as stated in the Spanish Constitution, may be the preventive closure of classes in educational centres, together with the closure of leisure facilities and playgrounds.
Thus, in this period of quarantine or confinement in which one should not leave the home except to buy primary goods such as food or medication, children had to adapt their daily routine, as do all adults. These measures were taken with the aim of slowing down the spread of the virus and protecting the health of all, especially people at risk.
They recommend that children stay at home, since adults and individuals are the ones who must go out when necessary to shop or go to work.
The importance of keeping children well informed
First of all, if the children are not very young, it is important to tell them about the situation and why we are in this situation. To do this, adults must be kept up to date and aware of exactly what is happening but always through official sources such as the Spanish Ministry of Health or the World Health Organisation.
Only in this way, and taking into account the measures established for its control and prevention, they will be able to explain to children what is happening and why we are in a situation of confinement.
This should be done in a calm and relaxed way to calm them down about what is happening, and to listen to their worries or questions they may have. Try to use words that they understand according to the age of the child, but without causing alarm.
What preventive measures should be taken with children during a pandemic?
The recommendations for children are the same as those for adults regarding respiratory diseases provided by the Spanish Ministry of Health:
- Wash your hands frequently. They provide exclusive information aimed at informing children to do it properly with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Use disposable tissues.
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth.
- Inform an adult if you have any of the main symptoms such as a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing.
The Spanish Ministry of Health recommends how to inform children during this time and remind them of the need to follow these guidelines in order to protect themselves. Now, more than ever, it is a good time to reinforce and optimise good hygiene measures to be followed not only during the state of health alarm, but also throughout their lives.
Learn how to manage time and stress during quarantine
During a confinement period, someone may go through different moments such as anger, rage, sadness or acceptance, fostered by the radical change in our routine and the feeling of being locked in.
These emotional situations are similar in both adults and children, and it is important to recognise these states of mind and encourage children to share them.
How to help children with stress during the quarantine period
Children, like adults, may respond to stressful situations in a variety of ways. They are often more dependent, in the case of younger children, angry or more anxious than usual, but may also become withdrawn.
With regard to the emotions that can arise during the period of confinement due to the state of health alarm, the World Health Organisation suggests, first of all, being understanding and paying attention to their reactions, and listening with interest to their worries.
Children should also be informed that all their friends and schoolmates, as well as their families, are in the same situation, so that they do not think that that they are the only ones who are in confinement.
Keep calm and spend time with them
Although this is a complicated situation for adults, it is important to keep calm about the feelings of children and spend more time and care with them, keeping a calm and friendly tone.
In case of isolation, if a family member or the child himself is in hospital, you should make sure that there is regular contact, if it is not possible in person, by telephone.
In addition, it would be good to talk to them about possible situations so that they can be informed and to listen to their doubts and questions regarding any change that may happen in the family environment, for example, if someone becomes ill and needs to go to hospital for some time.
In these situations, it would also be recommended to contact friends, relatives or psychologist friends if possible for any help at distance.
Keep routines and schedules
Whenever possible, it is of vital importance to keep previous schedules and routines established with the children, for both meals and sleep.
When not attending school, it is necessary to have a regular schedule for everyday learning and to set up this routine in the family environment with school activities.
Babies and children under two or three years old are not aware of this situation, so keeping their routine will be necessary for their wellbeing. On the other hand, from six years old they become aware of their environment, and it is from this age when they should be informed, along with an appropriate and concise description, of what is happening.
Children with ASD or disruptive behaviour
If for adults and children keeping schedules is very important, it becomes even more important for people with autism spectrum disorder or disruptive behaviours.
In those, especially in children, it is especially necessary to keep schedules and routines, since the confinement situation may worsen their behaviours. For this reason, since 20th March 2020, the Spanish Government has decreed that people with autism may go out on the streets during the state of alarm. They must do so with a person who accompanies them and must always follow the recommended measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Education and learning during a health crisis confinement.
It is important for the wellbeing of the youngest children to make sure that they can continue their learning, as they keep to their routine with an organised timetable for their education by pretending to stay in class.
Although there is no possibility that the teachers have been able to provide material for these days, parents can themselves look for exercises or reading to do at home. There is also the possibility of keeping online distance learning methods in contact with teachers or even academic content videos available free of charge on the web.
If possible, you can also arrange with the school and the teachers to receive information and to ask how you can follow the teaching from home by exposing your ideas.
In some cases, parents are teleworking from home and will need a calm environment, so it may be beneficial for both of them to establish a learning routine during these hours.
Organize entertainment moments
In addition to a set schedule for education, children must also have time for leisure and entertainment. It is advisable for adults to be present and to show interest in their abilities and games.
It is usual that children have a lot of energy, that’s why it is so important to have leisure time as well as to establish times of relaxation. Staying at home may affect the quality of sleep also for children, therefore, apart from times of relaxation, especially before going to bed, exercise routines can be implemented.
These routines are also recommended for adults, so they can be carried out together and can be taught to children on a daily basis.
Reduce the use of screens
In times of confinement due to health alerts, it is important to keep the schedules of the youngest ones in terms of screen use and make sure that they watch age-appropriate content.
Although circumstances may make this more difficult due to the time spent at home, it would be good to keep a reduced schedule for the use of mobile devices and to encourage children to spend their time on other activities.