Psycho-Social Effects of the Pandemic in Children
It is natural for any child to feel stressed, anxious, apprehensive and get worried about unnatural circumstances like pandemics similar to an adult.
What are the challenges faced by the children during the Pandemic?
- Change in their routine; meeting their peers and friends
- Break-in continuity of school and the learning process
- Lack of routine health checks
- Increased screen time and decreased interaction with others
- Missing important events like birthdays, festivals and any family gatherings
- Loss of a parent or a family member or a relative due to Covid
- Parental loss of job or security
- Instability at home
Why do children feel stressed?
In this digital era, children have access to information through various platforms including social media, news etc which can lead to stress. This stress can be enhanced when they are not allowed to go out, meet their friends, attend school and more so while the parents are themselves stressed and display it.
What are the Psycho-social Effects on children under 3 years old?
Children under 3
- Reduced interactiveness and delayed development of speech
- Depression – prefer to stay alone
- Anger and Hyperactivity
- Separation anxiety while the parents are in isolation/quarantine
- Clinging and excessive dependence
- Fear of excessive sadness
School going children
- Anger and hyperactivity due to missing their routine and lack of physical interaction with peers
- Violence is either due to excessive screen time or watching violence and/or abuse of any nature at home
- Unexplained abnormal behaviour due to boredom or excessive time on mobile phones
- Anxiety due to lack of certainty
- The stigma of the disease
- Sleep disturbances
- Nightmares, being withdrawn
- Anxiety to lack of certainty about exams and their future
- Panic attacks
How to Help children cope up with stress?
Staying calm, and listening to their concerns, providing comfort and reassurance.
How can parents help children cope up with stress?
- The main role and responsibility of parents is to provide and nurture a safe, secure and healthy environment where they can be themselves and develop to their full potential
- To spend as much time as possible with the kids to reduce the anxiety
- To stay calm and composed and avoid verbal, physical abuse or violence at home even with other family members
- To disclose the right information at the right time in an age-appropriate terminology
- Involve the kids in daily chores based on their age
- Have a creative time for arts and crafts and reduce the screen time
- Be a role model for your kids
- Practice family pot lunches or dinners
- Keep gadgets away from the dining table
- Monitor what your child watches on TV/screen
- Remember all emotions are valid; don’t brush them off or negate them altogether
- Fix sleep time. Maintain sleep hygiene
How can teachers help children cope up with stress?
- Providing correct, appropriate knowledge
- Quell the myths and dis-beliefs
- Identify any abnormal behaviour whilst in the class like lack of attentiveness or hyperactivity
- Give small, plausible breaks in the screen time while in the class
- Encourage non-academic activities while in the class
- Regular interaction with parents
How do Pediatricians help children cope up with stress?
- Parental education about developmental patterns and developmental needs
- Recognize physical manifestations of mental ill-health
- Identify predisposing factors
- Initiate early therapy
Remember. This too shall pass. Let us not ever give up.
- Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/psychiatry/services/pediatric-anxiety-disorders-clinic
- Mental Illness in Children, WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-illness-children
- How Play Therapy Treats and Benefits Children and Some Adults, Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/play-therapy
About Author –
DCH, DNB (Pediatrics), Fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care (UK), PG Diploma in Pediatrics and Child Health (Imperial College, London)