We are so over the COVID-19 pandemic that has shaken everyone up, especially families all over the world, for almost two years! Nobody has spent so much time at home. With just one governmental announcement, homes have turned into schools, offices while maintaining their original purpose as a living space. Even though parents now have more time for their children, there seems to be no equilibrium\u2014still. Image credit: Shutterstock But now, things are changing again as COVID-19 turns endemic. Everyone is expected to go back and resume life as if nothing untoward happened. After more than half a year of learning at home in 2021, school-going children will have to play catch-up when learning institutions open. However, before you start thinking of the \u2018what if\u2019s\u2019 and stress yourself out, we are stretching a hand of understanding to you by revealing the top four challenges you might be facing. Then, we give you tips on how to help the situation. Too Much Screen Time Image credit: Shutterstock Before the pandemic, it was easier to say no to screen time because child can do physical activities such as cycling, swimming or gardening. Child can also attend the physical class with their friends. Now, nursery rhymes are sung toward the screen and teachers are represented through pixels\u2014you can\u2019t say no to that, can you? After their lessons, they will want to watch their favourite cartoons because it is their chill time. The lockdown has caused a massive increase in the use of laptops and iPads. But beware, because World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that for children aged 2 to 4 years, sedentary screen time go over one hour a day. Prolonged screen viewing can cause dry and itchy eyes, blurry vision, and headaches, increasing the risk of developing nearsightedness. Image credit: Shutterstock Now that schools are opening up, parents must ensure screen time is also reduced. Encourage their involvement in physical activity. Better still, join them! Schedule dedicated playtime with children as they crave attention, and playtime promotes their cognitive, language and social skills. When it is time to have meals, put away all devices. Be a role model for the children to follow. Parents should set rules at home for everyone, not just for children, regarding excessive use of electronics (ahem, that includes Daddy!). Mental Health Image credit: Shutterstock Children born during pandemic time may not know what it is like to not be in a pandemic. Their only normal has always been mummy and daddy at home, and no one else in this world. You may have observed that your older children have either acted up or shut down because they were cooped up at home for too long. It is because children are not always able to express how they are feeling accurately. Just like how they cry when sleepy but don't want to sleep. As the country starts to open up again, you will have to prepare your child for it, too. Start the conversation and help them express themselves so they don't bottle up emotions within. Ask questions like, 'How are you feeling?' or 'What do you wish you could do?', to start the ball rolling. You can even ask totally random questions like, 'How do you think insects communicate?' or, 'What kind of superpower do you wish to have?' which will inspire them and get them thinking out of the box. If you see them sad or angry, make us of a feelings chart and ask them about how they are feeling or why they feel that way. Also, do not forget to affirm them, hug them and be with them. Brain and Personality Stimulation Image credit: Shutterstock There are seven learning styles, also known as multiple intelligences. They are visual (spatial), auditory-musical, verbal (linguistic), physical (kinaesthetic), logical, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Staying at home for two years will not stimulate these fundamental intelligences in children. On the flip side, staying home all day can reinforce anxiety for anxious or introverted children, while extroverts may feel lonely. Now with almost everyone vaccinated, you can slowly and safely reintroduce the outside world to them again. If you see these signs of anxiety in your introverted children, encourage them to balance their time so they aren\u2019t only doing one solo activity all day or going a long time without connecting with family and peers. Strive for a mix of screen time, social connection, physical activity, schoolwork, fun projects and a walk in the park. Image credit: Shutterstock For extroverted kids, find creative ways to release their pent up energy. You can start having safe playdates (please do a self-test beforehand) or if you are still wary about going out, try hosting a Zoom dance party or creating a cooking show. These are important to keep them from regression (temporary steps back in development). Prep them for the outside world once again. Think and talk about what is going on outside. Play together and try to learn and grow together. Always remember the best thing you can do for your children is to provide them with love and care. Nutrition Image credit: Shutterstock The pandemic has cut kids off from friends, nutritious school meals, sports and routines. With virtual learning and few activities outside the home, it\u2019s no surprise kids are moving less and snacking more. If your family has been eating more processed, high-calorie food and spends a lot of time on screens, you are not alone. During the COVID-19 lockdown, many children experienced higher-calorie diets. A part of it can be blamed on adults panic-buying all the canned food they can get their hands on after the lockdown announcement. A report stated evidenced a 7.5% increase in grocery spending through March 27, 2020. compared to the previous year. Hence, poor eating habits may be formed and secured among children and adolescents. If there is no intervention to correct it, dietary habits can become a source of health problems and stunted growth. To ensure your child achieves optimum growth and development, as we move out of a pandemic, we have to ensure that the child consume all food groups: fruit, vegetables, cereals, meat\/fish\/chicken, as well as milk and dairy products. Choose food which provide good energy quality, protein, vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin A,C,E and calcium. Nutrient such as DHA is also important for our child's brain development. Got Milk? Image credit: Shutterstock If you want to supplement your child\u2019s diet with additional nutrients, check out the new Dugro\u00ae NextGen Nutri with Zat Besi Aktif. It has been specially formulated to support the nutritional wellbeing of Malaysian children, more so during a period of their life when the nutritional needs are so high. Dugro\u00ae is the only brand with Zat Besi Aktif (unique combination* of the iron and vitamin C), 21 vitamins and minerals and the highest** DHA and Calcium. Drinking milk is no longer solely to ensure protein and calcium intake. With Zat Besi Aktif, it also ensures that your child get sufficient iron in his diet. One out of four Malaysian children under 5 years old are anaemic and that happens when there is not enough iron, an extremely important component in the blood that is important to support body defense^ and brain development^^. Image credit: Dugro DHA is important for a child\u2019s development and is found in both the brain and eyes.. It is all about the healthy growth and development of your child. Give your child optimal external and internal protection as they prepare to go back to childcare or school. Try new Dugro\u00ae NextGen Nutri with Zat Besi Aktif. Strengthen your child\u2019s immunity for a stronger 360 development. For a free sample, click here. Get Dugro today! Image credit: Dugro It is also affordable as one glass of Dugro only costs RM1. Dugro\u00ae NextGen Nutri with Zat Besi Aktif comes in a whole range of existing flavours that is sucrose-free: Original, Honey, Multi Grains, and Fruits & Veg. *With the optimal combination of Vitamin C: Iron in a ratio between 3 & 4, within the range recommended by the WHO to increase absorption. **Dugro Regular and Honey Step 3, 4 & 5 and Chocolate Step 4 & 5 are the highest in DHA (41.8 mg- 51.2mg\/100g), Calcium and Iron compared to other brands (per 100g), based on product labels as of Feb 2021 (Recommended selling price is less than RM30 for 900g\/850g pack) ^Gombart et. al., 2020. A review of micronutrients and the immune system\u2013working in harmony to reduce the risk of infection. Nutrients, 12(1), 236. ^^Pivina, L. et al, (2019). Iron Deficiency, Cognitive Functions, and Neurobehavioral Disorders in Children. Journal of molecular neuroscience : MN, 68(1), 110.