The year 2020 brought along with it a major change in lifestyle for people around the globe. Where we were once known as social beings, came the rise of the new norm: Social Distancing.
These sudden shifts across society gave rise to new social rules and a massive change in how we function as a society.
While adults may have likely coped better with these changes, the big question is, how did the children handle the result of the pandemic? It hasn’t been easy for a lot of families across the social spectrum. Kids who had to deal with the loss of a loved one or those who got quarantined in abusive or neglectful households have probably endured the worst of the pandemic. At the same time, the lack of social interaction and missing out on developmental activities could have caused a setback in many children’s all-around growth.
It was important to aid children going through pandemic stress and isolation. Hence, several groups and organizations started helping young children bounce back from the ordeal. Examples such as that of 6-year-old Hlyan Htet of Myanmar were common. Behavioral issues also became common among children.
As kids have started going back to school, many parents and teachers have noticed their children taking time to adjust to the new routine, managing emotions, and anxieties, and rebuilding social connections with friends. However, the great thing is that bringing children back to a supportive and consistent routine does have the potential to resolve such issues for many children.
So how can parents identify the first signs of negative impact or developmental issues caused by Coronavirus?
Children may be having anger outbursts, avoiding people, appearing distracted, wanting to be around the primary caregivers (parents) most of the time, and showing behaviors that may concern parents/teachers/caregivers. It is important to not panic. Communicate with the child, and spend time with them. Kids might not always communicate clearly, but as parents and teachers, we need to understand what they’re trying to say.
If their routine has gone back to engaging with peers and consistent and predictable engagement with school and family, then give a few weeks to observe the changes. Observe if the child gradually appears to settle down. If the behavioral changes continue to cause concern, then seek support of a mental health professional while continuing to monitor if anything in the child’s environment itself is a contributing factor.
Take the time to understand their needs, and why they’re feeling that way, and support the child. Adults have the same emotions as children do, we just have different ways to cope with them. Kids, on the other hand, may have very limited avenues to express their emotions.
Notice the child’s behavior and keep an eye out for any out-of-the-ordinary patterns. If you notice any changes, write them down and notice if they get triggered, or increase, or reduce in certain situations. Make sure that you share your concerns with the class teachers (or parents, if you are a teacher and have observed things in school) as well in case they can look out and share their observations while remaining supporting.
How to help children cope with pandemic-related stress
As parents, you may want to completely protect kids from the effects of the pandemic, physical, mental, and emotional. But that is not always possible. There are, however, certain strategies we could implement to support the children’s mental health in dealing with the stresses of this situation. We’re here to help you help your children bounce back from the stress which has developed as a result of the pandemic.
Check Your Expectations vs. Reality:
In an ideal situation, any parent would want their child to be stress-free at the earliest. The reality, however, is a little bit different. It is very important to set realistic expectations for the child’s development. Many children might not completely be back to normal till the current crisis has passed or even later.
Validating your child’s emotions with clarity can make the difference in how they deal with the situation. Give them the space to communicate their needs and feelings while not rushing to solve their problems or brush them away. What might not be important to us as adults could mean the world to a child.
Keep their curiosity alive:
A major portion of a child’s early development is based on their curiosity to explore. Being quarantined at home is likely to put limitations on their experience with the world and limit their exposure. Make use of tools & products to help your child stay in touch with the rest of the world in a learning manner.
Keeping this in mind, Our Founder Dr.Shweta Verma with her team has created diversity-focused coloring book and doll Ginny with which parents and teachers can help children interact and understand how to cope with change and disability.
When it comes to kids, patience is the key. Every child has their own pace and they tend to figure out things by themselves in their own time. Support your child in their growth and don’t rush their process by setting unrealistic expectations.
We need to recognize that children’s behavioral issues may be a normal reaction to an abnormal event. How we deal with the root cause of the behavior is what matters. This will help young children develop endurance. It is important to identify the child’s needs and support them while reassuring them that such crises are a part of life. Children are resilient in coping with changes, but they are also more susceptible to being impacted. Patience and a positive attitude can do wonders in helping your child bounce back from the Coronavirus pandemic.
About Ginny’s Planet:
Ginny’s Planet is a social enterprise Co-founded by Dr. Shweta Verma in 2019. The brand runs on the core value of helping our teachers and parents to teach their children to become independent, smart, and better leaders by equipping them with a deep understanding of empathy, diversity, disability, and inclusion. Dr. Shweta and the team design events, workshops, and products to help guardians & schools to develop kids’ mindsets and evolve as adaptive and flexible human beings. They work with schools to organize workshops for children and teachers.