Kerala has gone into lockdown again as the state has been ravaged by the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic. Experts say that this could affect the children in lots of ways. They point out that children face severe stress, including the challenges posed by continuous online classes. At the same time, most parents have no idea how to handle this situation. Dr. Varsha Vidyadharan, assistant professor of psychiatry at the government medical college in Kozhikode speaks about some of the problems that children might face during the lockdown and how to deal with them.
Severe problems faced by children during the second phase of lockdown
Last year, psychiatrists and experts had dealt mostly with problems arising from lethargy and boredom in children, during the lockdown. However, since the last few months, children have been struggling to cope with their parents undergoing treatment for COVID 19 or even succumbing to the pandemic. Lots of cases have been reported in the child line where kids struggle with severe mental pressure and sadness as their parents have either fallen ill or died. During the lockdown last year, parents had been home, giving company to their kids. This time too, children would be happy and relaxed if they are surrounded by the love and care of their parents.
Sleeping and wake up time
The daily routine of at least some children must have gone for a toss during the lockdown as they are sitting at home. They may sleep whenever they like or wake up really late. In case the parents notice this change in their daily routine, they must speak to the kids and make them understand the significance of following a healthy lifestyle. Even though the timings may alter a bit, it is vital that the children follow a general routine every day. The time to watch television or use laptops and mobile phones shouldn’t go past 10 pm, unless there is an emergency. Encourage them to read or listen to music in case the children find hard to fall asleep. It is better to wake up not too late in the morning. Parents could do their regular exercises with the children. If they practice this lifestyle for 3 -4 weeks, then it would become part of their daily routine.
Studies have shown that the pandemic has affected the education of more than 10 billion children in 132 countries. Though there are many shortcomings, attending online classes are better than having no modes of learning at all. Children have to be trained in certain habits and decorum while attending online classes. The parents should make sure that the children do not slip into browsing other websites while online classes are going on. In case you notice that your kid is browsing other websites during online class, you must pay extra attention to ensure that they are being attentive in class. You could also try talking him/her out of such a habit.
The sites that they browse become a matter of concern when the children are in a state of ennui. Parents or elders should be careful about 3 factors while kids are playing games online.
» Make sure that your child is playing a game that is appropriate to their age.
» Keep an eye to see whether the game has any sexual or violent contents. If possible, the elders too could play with them for a while.
» The duration of the game. Do not encourage indulging in online games for more than half an hour.
Though children might not be happy with these restrictions, try to make them understand. It is important to ensure that children do not spent more than two hours a day, playing online games.
Creative screen time
In case the children are interested in only playing online games, try introducing them to websites that inspire them creatively. Games that help them concentrate could be a great option. Blue Box, Super Mario and Tetris are some of them. Meanwhile, there are countless websites that teaches home craft or have interesting stories too. Spend some time with your children, joining them while they explore such sites. Parents could also rely on mobile applications that indicate the duration that the kids have spent playing online games.
Elders must understand that the problems faced by children, no matter how trivial they might be, are severe for the latter. Parents or elders are facing the struggles of the pandemic when they are adults. However, children are going through these difficult times that mar the joys of their childhood, at an early age itself. COVID 19 has wreaked havoc after the state has fought a deadly Nippah outbreak and two back to back deluges. Parents should realize that all these could cause severe mental and physical stress in children. They should speak and behave to the kids keeping these in mind.
It is alright if your kid looks sad for a day. However, imagine him/her looking depressed for a long time. Keep an eye on the child if he/she begins to speak less, shows impatience even for the little things, gets angry easily, have sleepless nights or suddenly become an introvert. They might be mentally stressed or have tensions. It might even be the beginning of depression. Children need the support and courage that would help them get past these struggling times. For that, the parents must lend them an ear and speak to them without having any prejudices. They must try to understand the children’s problems with an open mind. If you don’t see any improvement even after this, pay extra care and attention.
Love and care
Parents and other elders in the family must become role models that inspire children and give them the message that any calamity or difficulties could be easily overcome through love and care. The elders must be able to give the young ones mental strength, courage and support that would help the latter face adversities in a better and relaxed way. Try to spend as much time as possible with the children. Speak to them openly and freely. Give them the chance to express their sadness and even anger. Parents must find time to be with their children, listen to them and play with them. Make sure that you give attention when children are online. Be creative and explore ways in which you could make children happy and active, both inside the house and in your own yards.
For assistance call: 9495002279 (Kozhikode district mental health program)