The pandemic, online school, being home all day, are some of the issues our children have been facing for over a year now
Are you concerned about how they are reacting or processing this and what should you as a parent do?
Dr.Amit Sen -Director & Co-Founder of Children First India answers all the queries related to this.
There is social interaction or learning for children between 0-6 yrs. What can we do about this to help these very young minds?
It is very important to shield them from all the information and fear that is around us and we have to make sure that they don’t see or listen to things that are disturbing. Small children can sense the emotional atmosphere as they are very perceptive. They absorb it like a sponge and reflect it back in their behavior. The emotional state of parents affects the state of the children, so one has to very careful. Biological rhythms and routines are very important for children. Also creating emotional safety within the family is imperative. We all have to do our best in these difficult times.
When parents spend conscious active time with their children, ensure that time is free of any worry or anxiety.
Playing without any expectation -Having Fun-Loads of Affection. The key for parents is to keep themselves calm & emotionally stable for some time during especially when with children
Sometimes very young children find it difficult to express themselves emotionally in an effective manner – how do we get them to open up?
Though kids as young as 3 can start expressing verbally, even if they don’t there are other ways to find out whether they are going through any tension or anxiety, like an upset tummy, stomach ache, nausea, their sleep and apetite may get affected. These are important cues for parents to pick up if the child is unable to verbalize it. Some children may also express themselves emotionally by becoming clingy or crying easily. At this point kids need the emotional connection and reassurance that everything is ok or will be ok and not any disciplinary action or advice.This is true for all age groups
Parents need to to create an emotionaaly safe space for chidren so that they can share their feelings, even if it is anger of frustration but they are free to express it
This truly is an insightful session that all parents should watch. Please do watch the entire discussion here
How does disruption of routine affect the mind?(From last year almost everything went online. This affected children’s routines)
Yes, this can affect the mind in several ways. Children might feel helpless,sad, frustrated, bored and because of all this, they begin to gravitate towards screens, things, or activities that give them immediate comfort. Parents need to understand that they do this as they do not have any options because of the current situation. The unpredictability & fear of the 2nd wave has strongly affected the behavioral pattern in children. Anxiety and depressive symptoms begin to surface when parents end up being hard on the kids during this time so you need to handle them with affection.
Make the decisions collaborative as the kids will understand once they see the parents do the right thing too.
Like no screen time for the entire family post 10 pm, or not watching the news all day and do activities together as a family that is happy & relaxing.
The worry virus you spoke about recently – do elaborate – what is a worry break?
The worry virus is everywhere and any sort of fear or anxiety has to be dealt with. Ignoring it will not help. As of now, we all need to take worry breaks or COVID worry breaks, maybe 2-3 times a day, wherein you take a stock of what is happening around, the news, how are your friends & family coping, and then close it after 30-45 mins. If the older kids and parents are able to do this and worry only during the allotted time, it will help. If children are worrying or over-thinking all the time, they will not be able to focus on the other things, their mind shuts down.
How to talk about death with children, especially if there is a loss of a family member or someone close?
It indeed is very difficult but one needs to explain death to children depending on their age. Its important to make them understand that even if the person is no more his/her memories will stay on forever. Also ensure that the family is with the child when you announce it, even if it is virtual in the current scenario
In traumatic times what matters most is family support & the support of the community
How do we handle a tantrum or a breakdown?
Parents should not focus on the behavior but the feeling underlying it, whether it is anger, aggression or frustration.
Younger kids are easier to handle, a tight but warm hug can do wonders, but with older kids, it is a bit difficult but it really helps, so do give it a try. This is will help contain the outburst. The moment children feel the compassion, they mellow down.
I am holding you to keep you safe but also to understand what is that is bothering you
Gradually create an emotional space so that your child feels comfortable to open up and speak with you and you are able to to start a conversation around it.
How can parents be assured we have listened to our children?
Parents need to listen from the heart, listen with empathy and not look for quick solutions or to rescue their children.Connect with their feeling but remain in control and not break down with them. Make sure you also have regular and fun conversations with them too . Spend time with children doing things they enjoy.
Parents should take the approach of You, Me & We . Respecting your child’s feelings, personal space and choices is imperative
The more there is respect and trust, the more they will spend time with you and feel comfortable to talk to you about their worries or fears
13-18 years (Teenagers)
How is the decision of Board Exams in limbo affecting teenagers?
This is indeed has caused a lot of anguish and many children are facing anxiety & depression issues because of this
How can parents be there for children living abroad in the current scenario?
It’s important for kids to not only stay connected with friends but also their extended family(if they have) in the country they are in . Also, parents need to create the connect with their children virtually so that they feel they are safe and protected even when they are not with their parents. The digital space can be utilized more creatively like creating memory books online, creating a travel album online, revisiting childhood pictures /stories, collective experiences virtually etc,
How to handle excessive screen time or social media exposure and being in their own space mostly?
Parents need to accept the reality and ask them the reasons behind the same. It’s best not to be judgemental and try and reach out to your kids by sweet/special gestures to enhance their emotional bank account. A small note on the refrigerator or a note on their desk may help .
Is decreased school performance to be expected or for want of a better word – normal? How do we teach kids to deal with this?
Children are in a lot of stress and boredom. Actually, only 20% of the kids gain from online classes. Schooling is not just achedemics but a lot more .As parents,we have to accepting that learning and perfomance will decrease
If you are not emotionally stable , learning becomes much harder
There is so much news about the third wave – Is it true? What should we do to prepare ourselves and our children? As a country are we equipped to handle it -especially mental health
The opinions are very divided . The lethality of the virus has taken everyone by surprise this time.This virus may also become a cyclical virus that keeps coming and we will learn how to deal with it . We should be able to learn as a community and be prepared.As of now only 0.5% of our Health Budget is allocated to Mental health out of which there is hardly anything that comes to Child Mental health. Thankfully, schools & NGOs are taking this responsibility but sadly there are no funds or resources. The communities should come together and bridge this gap.