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After a time without being able to leave the house, when children can finally go for a walk, they may have different feelings. Many may consider it a great relief, however others may develop fear of leaving home. This fear or anguish of going out after isolation or confinement (or after a long period without being able to leave home due to illness, for example) has been calledcabin syndromeBut can it affect children too?
Indeed, although there is talk of cabin syndrome in adults, It can also affect children especially after a period of quarantine or confinement, especially those who are more fearful, insecure or for whom social relationships pose some kind of problem.
Although the cabin syndrome encompasses more difficulties and problems associated with being isolated at home for a long time (inattention, depression, anguish, irritability, boredom ...), we are going to focus on the fear of leaving home and how we can help children overcome it.
After many days without going out, many children have turned their home into their comfort zone, safe and safe. The fact of facing going out again, leaving home and seeing people, can generate anxiety, anguish and fear of what they may find. It especially affects those children who are more fearful or insecure and come to feel the street as a hostile and dangerous place.
The time to reconnect with people can also be a problem for the most shy children or those with difficulties when it comes to relating. For them, isolation more than a problem has been a relief, since at home and without having contact with other children they are calm and safe. In these children, this 'syndrome' manifests itself with a deep apathy and lack of desire to leave the house and with some anguish in the face of situations that involve them re-relating (going back to school or playing with other children).
In both cases, whether it is fear of going out or relating again, this childhood fear can manifest itself in several ways:
- After so long exposed to news recommending staying home Due to the danger and seriousness of the situation, many children are afraid to go out, and they will be restless and nervous when it comes to going outside. In addition, they may show excessive concern about how we are going to get out, if there is a risk of contracting diseases and what we can find.
- Others may even suffer anxiety at the idea of going outside, and they ask several times if they are going to go out or they wake up and ask if they will go out today, and they are reluctant and negative about that idea.
- Some children may have nightmares or regressions as a result of the new possibility of going outside to play again.
The role of parents will be fundamental to overcome these situations and help our children to successfully cope with these fears. In principle, these fears and anxieties are going to be temporary, but if we do not pay attention and act appropriately, they can pose a real problem for children and families.
1. It is very important ask children about their fear and give them the information they need. At the present time it will be the fear of the coronavirus, but it can be fear of any potential real or imaginary danger (of being robbed, of something bad happening to us while on the street ...). For this reason, we must give them the necessary information, adjusted to their age and ability, to gradually dismantle these excessive fears and make them see that with the proper protection measures the risk is reduced.
2. Do not force them to go out on the street, but go little by little. We can start by going down to the portal, and little by little we get a little further from home.
3. Practice relaxation and breathing techniques to reduce anxiety before leaving home.
4. Be calm so that the children are calm. If parents also feel some anguish to leave home, children will see their fears reinforced. Therefore we must be calm and confident. We can never forget that fears are also contagious.
5. Establish the daily walk as a new routine and present it as a joyful, relaxed and fun moment. You can even take the opportunity to propose different games while you walk (as long as they respect the necessary security measures to avoid infections).
6. Talk to children about how they feel when we are on the street and positively reinforce the fact that they go out. We can play with going out and buying something tasty to have a snack at home when we go upstairs and thus 'we give ourselves a prize'.
7. Talk to them about what they can do if they are afraid of the street. It will also be very positive to teach children the different hygiene measures they can carry out to protect themselves from contagion. In this way, they will feel more secure. In this case, it is worth reading the recommendations of the World Health Organization for good hand washing.
8. Help them detect negative thoughts about going out, and change them to other positive thoughts.
It is important not to overprotect and fall into the thought of 'it is not necessary to go out', since in this way we will be reinforcing these fears in children and delaying the time to face this situation. And cThe longer we take to face fear, the bigger and stronger it becomes..
In the case of perceiving that the fear of going out goes too far and is really something that limits your son or daughter and incapacitates him, it will be important go to child psychology professionals so that they assess the situation and help us in a more concrete way in each case.
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