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Are no school and play making children suffer of mental distress?

Are no school and play making children suffer of mental distress?

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Keeping your family safe from COVID-19 infections is important, but one should not ignore the negative impact it might have on your family’s mental health, especially on children. Consultant Psychiatrist, Sakra World Hospital Dr Naveen Jayaram gives us a few insights.

Social isolation, physical distancing, and school closure during lockdown have resulted in creating a negative impact in the minds of children owing to lack of sports, routine life, and outdoor games. While they may be spending quality family time with parents, lack of regular routine life and activities are reportedly causing them anxiety and mental distress. Understanding the causes of stress, anxiety and depression in children during lockdown is vital. It is common for any young or adult to feel worried or anxious during the pandemic. As a parent, it is important to realise that your children are going through the same situation like everybody else. With school closing, no play, sports or hardly any physical activity children have become dull. Children who are used to learning, playing and indulging in sports with their friends every day may feel anxious with the sudden change in their routines. Unlike their usual summer vacations, sudden changes in their lives and routines can be difficult to adjust. 

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Incidences of teenagers indulging in smoking and trying to smuggle a friend into their apartment in a suitcase are being reported. They are mostly worried and anxious about pending exams and results, future related to further studies, etc. Hence, watching over any changes in their behaviour and helping them cope with the situation is necessary. Seeking help from a professional counsellor can bring their anxiety under control. 

How parents can motivate their children

Children are curious by nature. They might ask many questions relating to the virus or situation. Communication is the key to keep their anxieties at bay, and create a safe and nurturing environment at home for them. Clarify their doubts, let them understand and be educated on the seriousness of the pandemic and the crisis. Explain why staying at home is crucial to curb the spread of the virus and how personal hygiene plays a significant role in keeping ourselves healthy and safe. Breaking the news about how this deadly virus is affecting the lives of people can ignite a sense of unknown fear. 

It is common for any young or adult to feel worried or anxious during the pandemic. As a parent, it is important to realise that your children are going through the same situation like everybody else.

Children also require daily routine schedules, which are time bound. Their eating habits, sleep timings, play, study and screen time have to be regulated. Introducing fun and enjoyable play environment at home is the key, for this parents need to be in a really good space. Learning can be made interesting by actively utilising the available resources and giving importance to harmony and peace in the relationship. Parents should be role models for their kids. If they maintain calmness, positive feelings and positive outlook about the future, their kids will imbibe the same.

Consistent and thriving parenting is the need of the hour. Give importance to common sense, moral and ethical behaviours rather than binging on academics.

Children are great imitators. As a parent, one must ensure that any anxiety related to the crisis must not be passed down to your children. It is important to reassure them that this will pass and keep them motivated. Keep your children busy and spend quality time with them as much as possible. Break the monotony; indulge in more physical activities with them. Engage in activities such as reading, playing, cooking, terrace gardening, cleaning, crafts, etc. where both the parents can be involved. Do home exercises such as yoga, Zumba, breathing exercises and indoor games to keep them fit and healthy. 

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Consistent and thriving parenting is the need of the hour. Give importance to common sense, moral and ethical behaviours rather than binging on academics.

A silver lining to the pandemic is the family time that parents can enjoy with their children. Not only will it strengthen the bond with your children, it will also help them communicate with you openly. Bring in the fun element in the regular routine activity and help them learn new life skills, discover their interests in different activities by finding them new hobbies and listen to their concerns and give them extra love and attention.

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When in chaos, it is okay to seek professional help

If distress levels increase or there is a significant behavioural change in your child, seeking help from a professional is necessary. The situation right now is challenging and we need to take extra precautions to reduce the state of anxiety and panic in our children. This can be even more challenging especially for children with special needs or those experiencing symptoms of depression. Seeking help from professional experts and will help them cope with anxiety.

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