The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to distance themselves from their near and dear ones. It has constantly put us through a feeling of uncertainty and doubt and with all the news around it, has just added to the already looming stress and anxiety.
As the pandemic rages, self-isolation and social distancing are the only ways to contain the spread of the virus. In the last six months, families, particularly those with children, have mostly stayed indoors with minimum or no exposure to the outside world. With day-cares, schools and even offices shifted indoors, families have spent all their time together.
With everything around them unfolding so suddenly, children, in particular, are experiencing a wave of change – sudden separation from their friends and teachers, not being able to step out to play or go to school – has increasingly left them stressed and anxious. Somewhere, living with the new terms and conditions have taken a toll on the emotional and mental health in children.
This is the time, when parents need to play a vital role in protecting their children’s mental health. Parents must have a healthy and open conversation that guides them to prepare for the uncertainty and reassure them that this is all temporary.
Dr Sulata Shenoy, psychologist and director of Turning Point, Centre for Psychological Assessments, Therapies and Counselling, agrees to that and says, “Children are mainly getting affected because it was like a holiday time for them but now many of them are wanting to get back to school. Children too long for certainty and a structure or routine, just like adults. Unfortunately, we are unable to give them any of these.”
She adds, “In the initially phase of the pandemic, people were eager about a lot of things such as the work from home and online schooling scenes, but now as we have past several months into COVID-19, we have understood that this is something that we have to deal with for a longer time.”
She observes that most kids after these many months of being indoors have started showing signs of restlessness and anxiety.
However, unlike in adults, where an issue is clear, in children, it is difficult to find out the underlying psychological cause because they manifest quite differently, she says.
Parents can play a rather important role of a stress-reliever and soothe the problems of children. To begin with:
Keep a close eye on the subtle but definitely not passable signs of an anxious child. Here are the red flags you should lookout for:
Covid-19 pandemic is not just a threat to human life, but it has changed how human should live. Social distancing, use of hand sanitisers, face masks, and washing hands frequently are just a few lifestyle changes Covid-19 has brought with it.
All these changes may be difficult for a child to grasp. As parents, we need to understand that childhood is a critical phase and if children’s problems are not addressed, it can leave a deep impact on a child’s mental health. Thus, parents should connect with them emotionally and understand what is bothering them. Keep the conversation open and realistic.