Covid-19, Psychology

Understanding Child Psychology during COVID-19 Pandemic

Student Contributors: Manisha Chakraborty, B.Sc 2nd Year, Biochemistry; Samanwita Mandal, M.Sc 1st Year, Biochemistry

  • For the last sixth months, the world has witnessed an unprecedented peril with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus. It was first reported in the city of Wuhan Hubei Province of China in December 2019. Since then it has rapidly unfurled from one country to another. It has become a major threat to health and the global economy. Until now, over three million people were infected and more than one fifth million people have lost their live worldwide. Considering the global scale of asperity and widespread infection, COVID-19 is certainly much pervasive as compared to the emergence of SARS-CoV epidemics in the year 2002.
  • Most of the countries have grappled befitting approaches to control the disease. The most common approach to foil the COVID-19 outbreak is in the form of imposing lockdown. India is no exception. It has been over a month that the people across India are virtually confined at home. All the major activities like education, offices, business, entertainment, and transport are at stake; except for the health facility and essential commodities. Nobody knows when normalcy will reign. Government-issued several measures and guidelines to maintain social distancing and hygiene.
  • The situation sounds good especially for those who used to stay away from home or spending little time with their family. They have now ample opportunity to spend with family. Despite this, the enormous disruption of normal routine undeniably perturbs the innate behavior of common people. It creates feelings of anxiety, panic, depression irrespective of age. However, special attention must be rendered to children under the age of ten. Even under wearisome daily routine, children should not be excluded from the remarkable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Children adopt and adapt a wide variety of behaviors, attitudes, skills, and experiences as they grow up. They seek for the structure of a daily routine that ensures predictability. Because the predictability can trim down apprehension and potential conflicts between parents and kids. The UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay claimed that ‘the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled’. Since schools are closed for prolonged and indefinite periods, they find themselves inside their rooms for weeks after weeks and behave differently such as the tendency to refuse things, clinginess, irritability, distraction, changing habits, and fear of asking questions. More concerning situation evolves when they witness themselves to interpersonal violence assuming their home becomes an unsafe place. In this situation, parents are getting afraid of tackling this menace.
  • Even children with special needs such as autism are also susceptible to uncanny behavior as a result of frustration for the disruption of their daily routines. A study in various countries reveals that pandemic has worsened the condition of mental illness of the children as day progresses. The condition becomes serious due to unfortunate accessibilities to mental health or peer support groups following stringent nation-wide lockdown measures and rigidity of social distancing.
  • In India, the summer vacation begins usually from April. They are supposed to go for outing, visit places of interest, enjoy their time with friends, relatives, and doing several activities including playing, singing, drawing, innovative thinking, and many more. Unfortunately, the outdoor activities are being compromised and their dream or wish has been slashed in this difficult time. Though children are perceptive to change, it is hard to comprehend or they may not articulate their view properly. Instead, they may express their anger, annoyance, irritation, and impatience quite often. Under this situation, children always look for their parents and are trying to become attached to them and throwing tantrums. This turns out to be disgusting to some parents.
  • By understanding their reactions and emotions, it is indispensable to address their needs properly. So, every parent has to develop a strategy of fostering resilience in children being worst affected by the psychological consequences of the COVID-19. The parent needs to pay attention, concentrate on them, monitor their activities, turn away their ill-attention to positivity. The main psychological consequence is the loneliness that can be alleviated by spending time with them such as playing collaborative games, sharing childhood experience, telling mythological stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, motivational stories, addressing their fears and concerns, encouraging physical activities and promote singing, playing musical instruments, inspire a drawing, and apply music therapy to reduce the loneliness, distraction, stress, fear, and agony. This can certainly be achieved if parents can build up a schedule analogous to their daily routine such as regular wake up, breakfast, home-schooling hours, lunchtime, dinner including scope for fun, going for walks with safe distance, and virtual house parties, etc. To do so, parents must find time in managing their stress so that they can be models for their children. Besides the kids can spend quality time with their grandparents that can act as a real stress buster for both.

 References

  1. Neria Y, Nandi  A , Galea  S .  Post-traumatic stress disorder following disasters: a systematic review.  Psychol Med. 2008; 38(4):467-480.
  2. Pettoello-Mantovani M, Pop TL, Mestrovic J, Ferrara P, Giardino I, Carrasco-Sanz A, et al. Fostering resilience in children: the essential role of healthcare professionals and families. J Pediatr 2019; 205:298-9.e1.
  3. Lancet Child Adolesc Health 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30109-7.
  4. Wen Yan Jiao, Lin Na Wang, Juan Liu, Shuan Feng Fang, Fu Yong Jiao, Massimo Pettoello-Mantovani, and Eli Somekh, Fostering resilience in children: the essential role of healthcare professionals and families. J Pediatr

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