Keeping Kids Engaged During COVID-19 Lockdown

Cities are on lockdown in a worldwide effort to contain the Corona virus. For introverts, self-isolation should not be a problem. For everyone else, it’s a serious challenge – especially those with children.

If the kids are driving you up the wall – such that catching the disease is starting to look good – relax. There are several ways to stay sane.

According to The University of Melbourne psychology professor and parenting expert, Professor Lea Waters AM, self-isolation targets three important components of mental health:

  • The sense of autonomy,
  • Relatedness – a sense of being connected to others, and
  • Competency – feeling effective

Without relief, it can lead to serious mental and emotional issues. If you are not lucky enough to live near singing Italian neighbors (or maybe that’s a good thing), there are other effective ways to cope.

When it comes to children, it’s important to get them onboard so they feel involved and in control. Even better, it helps to keep them under control because they know they can help.

  1. Explain What’s Happening


Assuming your children are old enough, have a sit-down to explain what’s happening and why. Yelling at children to stay indoors and avoid their friends only increases their anxiety and stress – the last thing you want during a lockdown.

Children want to contribute and feel a sense of responsibility, so explain why this is necessary. Also teach them proper hygiene – such as washing their hands for 20 seconds.

  1. Be Open


Encourage them to share their feelings, and do what you can to allay their fears. Children are very tech-savvy, which means they’ve already heard some amazing rumors – many of which are untrue.

This includes explaining that they won’t get it from Chinese people, that coughing and having the cold aren’t death sentences, that gran and gramps aren’t going to plop dead, and… well, you know the drill.

  1. Respect Personal Space


Unless you live in a mansion, space is going to be tight with everyone together and nowhere to go. Though a great time to bond and find out what’s really going on in each other’s lives, it can also get unnerving, so give each other ample room, where possible. Together-time is wonderful, but so is alone-time.

  1. Exercise


Exercise is a proven mood-booster, so if space allows, now’s the time to start losing calories and get fit. If calisthenics and weights aren’t your thing, just move. Learn a few dance moves or yoga poses from YouTube.

Now might also be a good time to do the chores you’ve been putting off, as well as clean areas long forgotten. When was the last time you saw the back of your fridge, for example? Cleaning closets and cupboards is also a wonderful time to rediscover what you actually have. Lie and tell your kids it’s an exciting treasure hunt that needs work!

  1. Create Structure

Experts say that structure is important. It gives meaning to the day, prevents it from being tedious, and gives those holed up together something to look forward to. For children, it ensures that they don’t have to be zombified in front of a TV or computer screen. More importantly, structure reduces anxiety by giving everyone something to do.

Jessica McHale posted the following schedule on her Twitter blog:


Yours doesn’t have to be as elaborate, but you get the idea. Another advantage to creating something similar is that if you’re creative enough, it gets the children out of your hair long enough for you to do stuff that needs doing.

  1. Learn New Things

Academic time doesn’t have to be tedious and boring. The virus is a scary thing, so no doubt your kids are hearing words and phrases they don’t understand, but would like to. For those who can’t do tele-schooling, no worries – create your own lesson plan around what’s happening so it’s relevant.

A fun way to learn vocabulary, for example, is through VocaTales’ Split & Spin system. Take a word, break it up into smaller words (split), then make a memorable story out of it (spin). Here’s an example:



Here, “quarantine” is split into “Corey ran, teens,” which acts as a mnemonic aid to help them better remember the word. The spin involves the story of a bull running teens from his property – a stupid one, true, but it helps them better remember the meaning.

To make it even more sociable and fun, your kids can challenge their friends to take up the story and learn new words so they don’t have to be so isolated… even though they all are. Or should be.

Teaching and learning new words takes care of “autonomy” and “competency.” Doing so with others safely (in isolation), takes care of the “relatedness” bit.