The year 2020 began with a bang, just not the kind we had expected it to be. We celebrated New Year’s Eve and went to bed thinking of the utopia this year is finally going to be. Instead, we woke up on the wrong side of the world and found ourselves entangled in a nightmare called the coronavirus. COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees and locked us inside our houses. For a generation that was so keen on bringing the world closer, maintaining social distance became an act of love. As adults, we surely find it difficult to deal with the lockdown. With unemployment rate skyrocketing and economies across the world crashing like dominoes, it is important for us to stay sane during these difficult times. But the worst effect of the lockdown has to be on mental health of school-going children.
In these days of lockdown, children’s mental health should be one of the top concerns for parents. Top international schools in Mumbai as well as CBSE schools in Pune and other parts of country have begun including mental health in their priority focus areas while imparting education. The increased awareness about the importance of mental health has slowly but surely lifted the taboo off the subject and made communication between parents and children more transparent than before. Listed below are three keys to keeping a check on and maintaining your child’s mental health in these dark days:
Oftentimes, children feel unconfident to share their negative emotions because they believe it doesn’t matter. They undermine their own grief, which eventually leads to pent up sorrow and unexplainable anger towards self and others. It is important that parents communicate to their children that they are a safe space for them to talk about anything they feel during these days; be it any negative emotion or positive, talking about it makes it easier to resolve it.
While parenting instincts traditionally requires parents to limit their children’s access to and time spent on phones, it would be a good idea to allow your kids to chat, call and connect with their friends right now. They are used to seeing each other every day and suddenly forcing them apart without warning can cause confusion and frustration on their young minds. Knowing their friends are alright and that they’re not missing out on much would be a good idea to keep their emotions in check.
Children need to be kept active through the day in order to keep them physically fit and mentally occupied. Besides, with the lack of domestic help in the current situation, there is sure to be a lot of work around the house. Delegate certain household responsibilities to the children. Chores such as doing the dishes, sweeping the house, mopping the floor, etc. are all good to keep them active physically since they won’t be doing much else anyway. This also gives the children a sense of responsibility and makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
A crucial part of caring for your child’s mental health, as taught in top international schools in Mumbai as well as CBSE schools in Pune and other parts of country, is to refrain from belittling or undermining any of your child’s emotions; whether it is fears or grief, trivialising their feelings can make the child unsure of their own stability and thereby develop poor coping mechanisms. As we adults take this quarantine time to better ourselves or simply sit back and wait it out, we must remember to check on the young ones who are left confused and scared for their future.