The Covid-19 pandemic has put the world at a standstill. Children and adolescents are among the most vulnerable. Their daily routines have been disrupted, along with a lack of socialization, and increased social distancing at a tender age.
While school closures save students from the virus, it also has isolated students. The nature and extent of the impact on children depend on factors like their developmental age, educational status, children with special needs and pre-existing mental health issues, underprivileged children, and parents who are quarantined and living in dysfunctional families.
Young children are going through anxiety and other behavioral and emotional problems that include loss of appetite and sleep problems, inattention, agitation, separation-related anxiety due to the uncertainty around the reopening of school, home confinement, lack of socialization, academic events, and postponement of exams.
Additionally, children with special needs that include ADHD, learning disability, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and other developmental and emotional difficulties face increased challenges due to the restrictions and unfriendly environment that does not match with their regular routine.
What can parents do to help?
Parents play a vital role during this period. They can provide effective communication in an appropriate manner during this time will help the children to be aware of what is going on in their minds as they are very curious at this age.
As the current uncertain period is causing anxiety among children, the exposure to news or any information related to the pandemic must be limited. Children tend to seek more attention and engage in clingy behaviour towards their parents, physical touch like hugs and kisses, devoting time for the children by providing positive assurance, attention and engaging in indoor play activities will help them.
A consistent routine for the child that includes opportunities to play, rest, involve in physical activities, occasionally arrange small virtual parties with their friends, practice sleep hygiene and consistent sleep pattern can be incorporated into the day. Parents must provide more praise and social reinforcements to children compared to material reinforcements.
As the pandemic continues, the utmost care and attention must be given to growing children from preventing it to have adverse long-term consequences on their mental health. Parents must give them positive attention and reassurance, they will be able to overcome this pandemic in a healthy manner.
— Authored by Grace Priscilla, Counselling Psychologist, Kaleidoscope, a unit of Dr. Bakshi’s Healthcare