By Dr. Meena G, Consultant – Psychiatry, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal
The coronavirus pandemic has become a norm and in order to adapt, schools across the country have switched to remote learning. Children have been asked to stay on track with their syllabus through an online learning model at home. This transition from classroom-based to online learning can be quite stressful for children as it is a change from their normal structure and they are not accustomed to the new way of learning. At the moment, it is important for parents and teachers to acknowledge the anxiety that students might be feeling.
Due to stress, parents might start noticing behavioural changes in their children such as excessive arguments, refusals, opposition, defiance, or withdrawal, and it is not unusual for some kids to fall further behind. During this phase, parental support and guidance is very crucial.
Here are some tips for parents to help children cope with stress
Be kind to your children
Parents should be gentle and understanding with children to adjust to this new learning schedule. It’s not always going to go well. At times the kids are going to need a break. Parents and families know best what their children need and they should really listen to them.
Routines and schedules are extremely important for children not only while at school but at home as well. Children will function best if they maintain their routine as in school. Around lunch time encourage them to get up and move around in the house so that they are not sedentary for the entire day.
Have open conversations
Encourage your children to express their feelings with you. Be patient and understanding as your child may have different reactions to stress. Encourage them to talk about the issue and try not to avoid their concerns. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings and assure them with compassion.
Don’t try to recreate school
Parents should aim for anywhere from two to four hours of schoolwork each day, depending on the age of their children. Don’t try to recreate school with six to seven hours of curricular content. Instead, focus on shorter, higher-quality engagement with your kids and make time for fun activities
Allow them to interact with friends via video chats
Your children are used to a lot of social contact at school, so they will definitely feel the effects of being distanced from them even after a few days. While it might not be safe for your kids to see their friends in person, you should allow them to interact with them online, beyond social media or text messaging. Video chats are often the closest thing to seeing someone in person, and are a great way to get in social time without endangering yourself or others.
Remember to schedule time for fun
While this is most certainly not a vacation, it’s important to have some fun with your children while they are at home. It’s rare that you have so much time with your children, so use this as an opportunity to bond.
Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods and exercising are all important for good mental health. As your kids are experiencing detachment from their normal school routines, make your kid’s learning experiences more personalized to their strengths, interests, and skill level. The best way to teach children these self-care strategies is for parents to follow them too.