How can parents best help their children manage their emotional and mental health during the social distancing required to fight the coronavirus pandemic? They’re dealing with a lot of change, stress, and isolation as a result of the pandemic, and I would appreciate any suggestions on how to best help them deal with their feelings.

This year has been hard for everyone in the world. People have had to make a lot of new adjustments, changes in their lives and have had to cancel their plans. Children have suffered immensely due to the pandemic. School closures, a break in social activities and an absence of physical activities have all caused enormous stress on children’s emotional health. Parents should encourage them to talk about their feelings and be open about how the pandemic has impacted their lives. Healthy alternatives can be offered to them for the changes that they have had to make due to the pandemic. Meetings with friends and families in small groups, help with online schooling and outdoor sports such as cycling can be encouraged. It’s also a good idea to engage the kids with house pets in order to help them feel useful during this pandemic.

I am a sucker for saying yes. Sometimes I even find myself thinking “no, no, no, no” and then I blurt out “yes.” Why is it so difficult to say the word “no”? It’s just a word, right? Why it is so important for me to please everyone, to the point that I would feel resentful and stressed because of it. How can I say “no” to people without worrying what they will think?

You can start saying “no” by developing personal boundaries. Allow yourself to say “no” whenever saying “yes” seems unnecessary or like a burden to you. This habit of people pleasing may have developed in your childhood. You probably weren’t given enough space to do things your way and you probably ended up pleasing parents, siblings and friends all the time. It’s never too late to break this pattern. Prioritise your needs over those of others without any guilt.