Children and teenagers confined to home are the worst victims of the pandemic 

While children seem to be relatively safe from the Coronavirus raging across the world, they are probably suffering a lot more due to psychological stress

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: PTI)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: PTI)

Dr Amita Puri

Vinita dutifully opens her laptop and marks her attendance in online classes. But after marking her attendance, she gets glued to her smartphone. It is difficult for teachers to keep tab on every student and Vinita, 15 years old, has lost interest in class.

“She sleeps all the time, does not eat well for fear she will put on weight, does not participate in her online classes, does not submit her assignments and consequently is lagging behind…but we are not allowed in her room. She yells whenever we knock. She keeps her room locked and threatens to physically harm herself if we try to reason, “her parents confided.

When our team of counsellors interacted with Vinita, she said,’ I hate my parents. They fight with each other and I feel choked around them. I feel anxious all the time and just have no energy for anything.”

Closure of schools have affected students, teachers and parents alike. Teachers are finding it hard balancing their domesti Teachers reportedly complain about increased work load, challenging work climate ( working from home – taking online classes), increased parental and management’s expectation about the efficacy of their professional role and their own work life balancing act issues have added on the trauma faced by children and young adolescents..h c chores, handling their own children and family members who are working from home or are ailing. Their work load has gone up. They are under constant scrutiny and expectations of school management and parents are now a lot more.

At the same time parents are unsettled, not used to having children stay at home for long periods and themselves working from home. They too have increased pressure of work and though at home, can spend little quality time with their children. Going out not being an option, children and their parents are both feeling stifled and getting on each other’s nerves.

While children seem to be relatively safer from the Coronavirus raging across the world, they are probably suffering a lot more due to psychological stress. Tempers are getting frayed and a growing number of parents are reporting children snapping and yelling back at them.

“I am not a child; I need my own space. Stop yelling at me,” grumbles Sunny when his mother calls him for lunch for the umpteenth time. He is 14. Even eleven-yearold Rumeena has become moody and temperamental. Her interactions with friends from school have gone down and she is reluctant to speak, choosing to be silent and sullen. Most children are spending more time watching TV. Indoor games and games on mobiles no longer work. They get bored easily. Even five-year olds are hooked on video games.

School closure, lack of outdoor activity, aberrant dietary and sleeping habits are disrupting children’s usual lifestyle and can potentially promote distress, impatience, annoyance and varied neuropsychiatric manifestations. Children of single parent and frontline workers suffer from even more anxiety and unique problems. New parenting skill sets are required, instead of ‘helicopter parenting’ to allay the fears, doubts and anxieties of children. Though it is easier said than done, a few starting tips might be of assistance.

• Learn to communicate more freely and openly with children.

• Engage children in housekeeping activities and do the chores together

• Give children their own personal space and time.

• Set aside a time slot for the family to spend some relaxed time together

• Developing the art of story-telling, reading stories aloud, singing, dancing, mime, dumb charades, indoor games, aerobics, yoga and exercises might help.

• Have meals together

• Praying together and singing hymns can also be soothing

(The writer is Director, Optimus Center of Well Being )

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