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31. March 2020.

Belgrade - Recommended measures of social isolation give the best results in fighting the epidemic, but they also bring about changes in routines for all family members.

It's natural to feel fear and be anxious, since it's a normal reaction to the state of crisis and uncertainty.

Children can also feel confused, sad, scared and anxious.

They have much less experience than you and, therefore, fewer crisis management strategies. So, here are some suggestions that can help you get organized and overcome the challenges of isolation.

Master your time and your day.

Put some order in your daily activities - make an activity plan for the whole week. The structure will give both you and your children a sense of security and should be as similar to the lifestyle you have led before home isolation as possible.

You can make this plan with your children and place it in a visible place, so that it is accessible to all household members.  

Take care of yourself, eat regularly, exercise, sleep enough and reduce all other sources of stress.

Do the things that give you back control over your life.

Commit yourself to mood-enhancing activities.

It can be listening to music, a movie, a good book, a hobby you haven't had the time for before. Be proactive since this attitude gives you the power and control over the uncertain situation.

Also, taking care of yourself will not only help you stay healthy, but it will also help you stay calm and focused, so that you could take the appropriate care of the children.

 In times of crisis and stress, it is common for children to seek more contact and be more demanding towards their parents.

Talk to your children about COVID-19 in an honest, age-appropriate way.

Children, like adults, can feel relieved when they express and share their fears and concerns with others. In doing so, children observe the behavior of adults and their emotions, so that they themselves know how to manage their feelings. Help them find positive ways to do this.

Kindergartens and schools do not operate temporarily, children spend more time at home and you can feel the added pressure and responsibility for organizing daily activities with the children.

Playing with the loved ones will help children feel safe in times of uncertainty, process confusing information, get closer to their parents, and increase their capacities and skills for future challenges in life.

 Do not neglect your needs as a parent, especially if you are working from home - this can be challenging with children in close quarters.

Set clear expectations with your children about when you can help them and when you are unavailable to them.

Include in your family schedule the activities that you know your children can do on their own (such as watching educational contents on television).

Be patient with them until you can achieve it. The kids may not accept it right away, but they will get used to it over time. You probably won't be as productive as usual either, but that's all right.

Plan the time for yourself during the day, at least for half an hour.  Organize your children’s time during that period of time.

Save yourself from negative information and over-monitoring of the news, don't let the information about the epidemic overwhelm you.

At the same time, beware of misinformation, be informed solely through verified websites and information sources that provide proven information and advice. Don't panic.

If you are feeling agitated and very anxious, it is important to know that you are not alone and that your reaction is normal and understandable in relation to the situation of the whole society. 

Sometimes talking to a trusted person, friend or family member is a good and easy way to feel better. You can keep a diary. When we share with someone what is bothering us, we are much more likely to feel relief, to better understand the situation we are in and the feelings that accompany it.

Do not hesitate to seek the help of a specialist if you do not manage to deal with fear and anxiety yourself.

There are numerous resources and phones available through which you can get in touch with mental health professionals.

Source: UNICEF and Coordination Body