COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have adversely affected the mental health of people. A sense of fear and anxiety has gripped many people. It has also put the mental health of millions of children at risk.
With an aim to know what kinds of issues children (of 6 to 12 years) are facing and how the family and parents can help them, Fit Northeast had a conversation with Neuropsychologist Lovely Choudhury. Choudhury is a Neuropsychologist in the GNRC Hospital in Guwahati.
Fit Northeast: We all know that lockdown has not been easy for anyone. How did you feel that it affected the children (from 6 to 12 years)?
Lovely Choudhury: Lockdown has been very harmful to many. As in they lost their near and dear ones, many lost their jobs etc. Children have been the worst victims as they were restricted from going out to school or playing with their friends. They could not even go to the schools, which were the best place for them to socialize and learn many things.
Staying confined within the walls of the house has made the children very stubborn and irritated. Moreover, it is also seen that many of the children are also putting on weight staying at home and becoming lethargic. The main problem is that the children have abundant time now but very less work in comparison to the time.
Moreover, these days, both the parents are mostly working and hardly get time to give to the child, as a result of which the child feels more lonely starts depending on mobile or any other technological gadgets for companionship, which is again making them unsocial.
Another thing that was added was that since the number of study hours has lessened during the lockdown, the handwriting of the children has also become worse. In this context, it was a request by Mrs Choudhury to every parent to kindly keep the habit of writing among their children.
Fit Northeast: What is the role that family members can play during such a time?
Regarding the part of education, the parents must encourage the children to attend their classes dedicatedly.Lovely Choudhury: Earlier people used to have joint families. Children never felt lonely as they always had many people surrounding them. Be if grandparents, first cousins, uncles and aunts. In such a family setting, the children get an opportunity to learn many things from the seniors at the home.
Regarding the part of education, the parents must encourage the children to attend their classes dedicatedly. Other than that, parents must keep the child involved in different productive activities (or any kind of hobby) which will culture his/her mind like making them write about something, draw something, sing or dance. Parents can assign them some hobby and can give them some reward of appreciation if they do their work properly.
Other than that, parents can ask them to do some small things like watering some small plants in the tubs, can involve them in taking some small decisions like deciding the food menu if someone is stepping in for lunch or dinner. By doing so, the child will feel connected with the family along with a sense of responsibility. It is very important to take the child's view in some small family matters to make him feel more connected.
While a child is doing a class, the parent's vigilance is very important as it is seen that most of the time, children simple switch off their camera and either browse Google or play games. Parents should make a point to make sure that children spend more time with grandparents if they are there. The companionship of grandparents is extremely important to give a good emotional and moral base to the children.
Fit Northeast: What kind of activities or behaviour should parents do in front of the child?
Lovely Choudhury: During many consultation sessions, it was witnessed that in front of the children themselves, the parents start scolding or criticizing them in front of everyone. This is a very wrong practice and must be avoided. It is very necessary for the parents to understand that every child has good qualities within them, so they should encourage the child to be better instead of demotivating them or repeating the negative qualities. The child should be encouraged to speak his heart out and should be involved in making certain small decisions.
Fit Northeast: How can having a sibling be helpful?
Lovely Choudhury: Having a brother or a sister is actually very good as they get a chance to socialize. This even gives them the opportunity to learn many things through sharing. The children do not feel lonely and get to learn many things from their seniors.