CORONA Pandemic marked its entry into our system from the beginning of this year. No of us would have imagined that the disease which started in the city of WUHAN would have such a drastic influence on our lives for which many of us were not mentally prepared. We hadn’t experienced things till total lockdown, social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine on a national level till now.
But the maximum impact has come on children and adolescents of different age groups. Children are free spirited, no one can bound them to one place for long. Many times, they express themselves through their actions so when the movements were restricted to houses the vent out of their energies was suppressed. Though most of us have been home bound for past 5 month and it has increased the family time but limited physical activity in house premises, no interaction with friends, shifting to online methods of learning ,increase in screen time, limited or no outdoor activities/outing and a confusing picture regarding future in older kids were experienced.
Toddlers between 1-3 years, who are still developing their language to express their anxieties & frustration through tantrums, excessive crying, not eating well, not listening to parents, throwing thing all over the place. Parents though getting time to spend at home, had to deal with loads of house and office work along with an unmanageable kid at home.
Pre- primary and Primary School going kids who had just got their admissions in nursery or finished their academic year were excited about their new classes, meeting their friends, starting with new sessions; were held at home with new introduction of system of online teachings, absence of a daily routine, less physical and outdoor activities and increased screen times in the wake of school teaching, extracurricular activities online, school homework and projects and television watching as a pastimes. So apart from boredom and monotony, they had problems like concentration during teaching hours, lack of physical and emotional connect with friends and teachers, long siting in front of laptop or TV screens, eye problems like vision issues, watering, pain and infections, headaches and little or no social interactions. Parents have tried their best to engage these energetic minds into virtual teaching methods like coding and online activities so that their energies are channelized.
Adolescents and Children who were in their last year of school were faced with excessive pressure of online teachings to complete the syllabus on time, uncertainties towards pending board exams, limited future options and confusion regarding their future. Some of them who wanted to pursue education abroad were held up due to international restrictions of travel and Visa. As it is adolescent is a very delicate phase of life and this pandemic has made things even more confusing. There has been increase in cases of anxiety, depression, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Limited peer interactions, academic pressures, social media overuse, less involvement of parents makes them go into their own shells sometimes.
A parents in today’s times is facing two major issues: First he or she has to take care of house as well as office work , with increasing work pressure while working from home, continuous work deadline, no time limits, resumption of office work for some with no support of day-care ,job insecurities, nuclear family culture in cities and secondly a child to take care of who needs their attention in one way or other in different phases of growth.
Children needs our attention, so be around; fix about 30 minutes to one hour of your day for some physical play with your kid be it just jumping or hoping around. As the rules are getting relaxed, take them for cycling or running or just walks while taking precautions. Try and communicate in their language, howsoever nonsense it may feel (this goes for parents of toddlers). You may also enjoy and feel relaxed afterwards. In case you are facing tantrum issues, don’t give in to them as it may become a habit later. Just leave them in a safe place for some time till the tantrum settles, avoid being too cuddlish afterwards. Give them paints and colours and play dough and enrich their imagination. Nowadays there are lots of age appropriate activity boxes which focus of different aspects like science, nature and art which are meant to limit their screen time. You can request schools to give projects in which there is no involvement of laptops.
Limit the screen use to school times and watching TV (maximum 1 hour in intervals of 20-30 minutes) for small intervals with eye relaxation exercises in between. Engage in some physical exercise routine with them especially parents of older children. You are going to be their role model. Avoid engaging in junk food in front of kids and keep them limited to once or twice a month. You can involve your child in cleaning, cooking and small house chores. Reduce your use of mobiles if you are not working so that they learn it from you. Talk to your adolescent about his doubts and insecurities, share your childhood experiences, share your insecurities, become their confidant and don’t be preachy about things.
This pandemic has affected us in many ways but the human race has always adapted in difficult times. Our children are most vulnerable ones but with proper guidance, little involvement and positivity, they would emerge from the current times as shining stars leading to a better world tomorrow.
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