Help children manage lockdown stress

Last Updated 23 April 2020, 07:12 IST

In these difficult times, stress is a given. Social and physical distancing has led to emotional and psychological distress in children. Their way of life, right from academic learning to the way they spent their vacation has taken a 180-degree turn. This shift to e-learning and restricted contact with their friends and extended families is a challenging situation for them. What makes it more difficult for a parent is that most of the children are not that open about communicating their feelings. To make it a little simpler for a parent, here are five signs that you can watch out for if your child is facing emotional stress:

Unable to express

If your child is quieter, aloof and the frequency of engagement or conversation between you and your child has suddenly dropped, consider it as a warning sign. Significant decrease in communication shows that your child is upset and going through emotional stress. To overcome this, proactively increase your conversation with your child and also with the people they like either through regular calls or video calls. Discuss various topics that interest your child and try to engage them in something productive and mentally stimulating.

Feeling anxious

If your child is continuously questioning about the current situation, and displays anxious behaviour when they hear you conversing about the lockdown or while watching or listening to news, these are clear signs of stress. It is not advisable to completely mask them from the situation, but it is very important to narrate the circumstances in non-overwhelming ways and filtering out information that could lead to depression. Avoid creating panic around Covid-19, as that can increase their emotional stress and lead to more anxiety. Talk and explain to them the positive side of the lockdown like reduced pollution. Discuss about the recovery rate, efforts to develop a vaccine etc.

Eating and sleeping pattern

They may eat less or just skip meals sometimes. They may sleep very less or oversleep or experience nightmares due to overthinking about the ongoing situation. Track their eating and sleeping pattern. If you notice a drastic change then try rectifying the issue. Everyone is trying to make sense of the situation, but sticking to a schedule in these unpredictable times will help.

Plan a healthy schedule for your child, taking into consideration meal timings, sleep and nap time, recreational time, study time and other extracurricular activities they might be engaged in at home via online or offline sources.

Aggressive behaviour

Most parents today are working professionals and have to work from home due to the lockdown. Absence of communication with children despite working from home along with the sudden home-bound restriction can trigger aggression and hyperactive behaviours. Disobedience, throwing tantrums, mood swings or irrational demands are the signs to watch out for. If communicating with children does not help in this situation, there are many credible mental health and counselling hotlines facilitated by the government, counsellors and NGOs to seek the much-needed help.

Social media usage

Today, social media is one of the main sources of engagement and entertainment. Pre-teens and teenagers have access to smartphones and are already registered and hooked onto social media. Spending too much time on social media rather than personal contact or conversations with friends and families is a matter of concern. Comparison of virtual lives on social media can also lead to a sense of insecurity or unhealthy competition in children. Social media bullying also contributes to emotional distress. Keeping a check on social media usage will help in this situation.

(The author is CEO, Ryan International Group of Institutions)

(Published 23 April 2020, 00:30 IST)

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