The Impact of COVID-19 on kids : DSEJ’s Advisory – Read Here.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on kids : DSEJ’s Advisory: Support children in a time of uncertainty.

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Amid concerns of mental health impacting children during COVID-19 pandemic, the School Education Department has advised parents to encourage their wards to minimise screen time and help them in understanding basic concepts of reading and writing skills rather than merely focussing on the completion of syllabi.

In an advisory issued, Directorate of School Education Jammu (DSEJ) said that the parents of the children should focus on mental health and wellbeing of their wards during and post COVID-19 pandemic. The parents were also advised to be compassionate in understanding the sudden increase of mental and emotional needs of their wards.

“Parents must encourage their wards to remain disconnected from the gadgets as much as possible and should make them focus on simple family time games, stories and moments in comforting them. This tactic could be a great distraction from stress as well,” reads the advisory.

Besides encouragement for remaining disconnected

from gadgets and understanding reading and writing skills, the school education department recommended

following suggestions:

DSEJ’s recommendations:

1: Help your child follow a similar routine: Keep it flexible and as realistic as possible. SMART goals show better results-specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-hound.

2: Time to be compassionate: Your child’s mental and emotional needs have suddenly increased. Prioritize their mental health and don’t keep unrealistic. expectations that can be burdening. 

3: Encourage your children to disconnect from gadgets as much as possible: Simple family time games, stories and moments can be extremely comforting and would be a great distraction from stress as well.

4: Be sensitive while educating children about the pandemic: Help them stay in touch with reality but reassure them that they have everything they need for now. Comfort them, don’t scare them. Never use threats related to pandemic to discipline them.

5: Don’t worry about the syllabus. Instead help your child understand basic concepts. Focus on reading and writing skills.

6: Children need not always be given advice: Encourage expression of emotions, feelings and thoughts. Listen to them and let them be human for reacting to uncertainties and fear that they feel, don’t try to suppress emotions.

7: Pay attention in case of extreme behaviour: Behaviours like fear of death, disrupted sleep and lack of appetite etcetera should not be ignored for long if it causes a lot of distress. Seek professional help, if required.

8: Accompany them for physical exercises: Help them engage in some form of movement based activity at least 4 times in a week.

9: Always trust: Believe children if they report sexual abuse to you.

10: Children vulnerable to online sexual abuse:

Children spend good chunk of their time online and face the risk of exposure to online sexual abuse, cyber-bullying and other online threats. Be friendly and talk to them about safe internet practices. Being preachy and aggressive with children in this case may not work.

11: Teach children about personal safety rules: Their body belongs to them and any uncomfortable touch or gesture made by anyone which makes them feel unsafe is not acceptable.

12: Allow and help them to stay connected with peers: Socialisation plays a prominent role in children’s lives. Encourage them to talk to their friends. Relating to others going through the same thing can help them feel better.

13: Creative expression is the key: Encourage them to develop ways for self-expression. Help them develop a hobby or learn something new with the help of the internet if needed.

14: If children are witnessing violence at home, or if they are the target of the violence, it causes trauma and distress and may lead to disruptive behaviour. WHO World Health Organizations (WHO) suggests that the governments must play a role to ensure that COVID-19 prevention and response plans integrate age appropriate and gender sensitive measures to protect all children from violence, neglect and abuse. Child protection services and workers must be designated as essential and resourced accordingly. WHO says that a third of the global population is on COVID-19 lockdown, and school closures have impacted more than 1.5 billion children. ‘Movement restrictions, loss of income, isolation, overcrowding and high levels of stress and anxiety.

overcrowding and high levels of stress and anxiety are increasing the likelihood that children experience and observe physical, psychological and sexual abuse at home-particularly those children already living in violent or dysfunctional family situations.’-WHO It also says that the online communities have become central to maintain many children’s learning, support and play; it is also increasing their exposure to cyber bullying, risky online behavior and sexual exploitation. Experts Speak

Physiologists believe that the mental health of the children have got affected because for the past couple of years, they have been restricted to home studies and online education only.

They also believe that the children are not indulging in any sort of physical activities and have remained confined to online games and other activities. Akriti Hussain-Delhi based Psychologist and Therapist

In the current scenario and highly prevalent COVID situation, online schooling is of utmost importance as it helps in continuity of children’s’ much needed education and provides at least a resemblance of structure to their day.

It also helps in building accountability and

responsibility which are important skills learnt during days of formal education.

The flip side to this is the easy access and increased use of the internet which comes with its own threat. In my opinion however this is a problem that can be controlled by a) allowing children to use the internet only at designated times i.e. during online school classes or while doing homework online b) technological advancements have allowed us to put in parental controls which allow students to only access pages that are safe and of use to them. c) If possible have an adult present in the room while the child is using the internet for school purposes and do random checks of browser history to monitor the content checks of browser history to monitor the content being visited on the internet. d) Talk to and check in with your child regularly about how they are feeling and how online school is going for them and try to gauge if they are facing any issues related to the question in hand.

With these measures in place the benefit of online school till we can return to normalcy of tweighs the closure of the same.

The last two points are very important as the most important aspect of helping anyone or avoiding a problem is awareness and if we do not engage with our children we will not know what the problem is if any and before we know it will grow into something much larger.

The problem of domestic violence towards children in homes is already a longstanding issue COVID or not. However, due to the pandemic the stress levels across all age groups has risen multi-fold and therefore the above mentioned problem has become even larger. Children who were anyway subjected to domestic violence either directly towards them or witnessing it at home between other family members are seeing them heightened and new cases are cropping up in homes where it was not there before. So, yes it is a problem that needs immediate attention. These issues have a major impact on children’ behavior either through imitation where they develop

the same kind of behavior and disruptive coping

mechanisms by observing or it affects a child’s

psychological health and leads to anxiety, depression disruptive attachment styles, relationship and emotional regulation difficulties, academic difficulties, behavioral difficulties and many more. Seeking help as a whole family is the best way to cope with this and seeking help comes in many stages. There needs to be awareness, availability of appropriate and reachable services, de-stigmatizing the process by banishing labels and using simpler language which people from all walks of life can relate to.

There need to be more professionals available and trained to help out in such matters in every community.

Overall, we all need to be on solution focused mode and get together and find solutions and implement them no matter what. Together it is possible. Sadaqat Rehman-Psychologist at Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar

Some doctors have started working on child counseling who are suffering from acute or low stress and anxiety because of COVID-19 and experts are working to make the minors understand to deal with it.

Sadaqat says that following the outbreak of the virus, the fear and uncertainty among the parents of the minors, they have put a ceiling on their wards to ensure their safety.

She said, “As a psychologist, I believe that the children feel like they have been caged by restricting them to homes only.”

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