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COVID-19 and its impact on children’s psyche

By Manju Sarmah:

COVID-19 pandemic has transformed society in profound ways, especially the mental health of children which is totally shattered at this odd times. It has taken a toll on the psychology of children as children’s mind is impressionable to every change in the society. Covid-19 has created crevices into the depths of indelible young minds. The threat of pandemic has proved vulnerable to  the child’s  growth and development.

A child can be nurtured and molded well in a conducive environment brimming with happiness, security and safety. But it is a matter of great concern that the entire fabric of social scenario has changed for worse due to the feeling of uncertainty and insecurity resulting from pandemic. The children have been confined in the conch of their homes as a step to save them from the claws of pandemic but the irony is that  the ambience in home is also not congenial for their all round development as the feeling of fear lurking in the minds of the elders is telling upon the mental and psychological health of the children. The stress experienced by the parents is having a ripple effect on their children. The financial crunch, illness of near and dear ones, death in the family- all have detrimental effect on the psyche of the children who are unaware of the far reaching effects of this pandemic.

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Due to adverse situation at the home front the elders are full of  frustration, irritation  and melancholy and it is inevitably passed onto the younger members of the family who are still not worldly wise to understand what is going on around them. They fail to comprehend the reasons behind the callous behaviour of their parents and elders and feel neglected and uncared for. This brings down their self esteem.

The closure of schools has far reaching effects on the psyche of the children as their physical movement is restricted within the four walls of their houses. Lack of face to face interaction with the peer group has deprived them from mingling with the peer group which is paramount to develop soft skills in them and resulted in  making them gloomy and dejected. They have become self- centered. The communication skill is hampered as the children don’t get enough opportunities at home to voice their feelings and emotions.

Inspite of all the efforts taken by the parents and teachers, the learning gap is widening day by day reflecting upon their grades which is again a cause of stress and worry among the children. Many children have gone into reclusion as they are spending hours and hours in loneliness. School is a place where children give vent to all their emotions and feelings with their peer group without the fear of being judged but closure of schools has deprived the children of all kinds of social interaction and outdoor physical activities in the form of games and sports.

This has marred the mental and physical well being of the children. They are suffering from obesity and becoming very lethargic and lazy who love to lie down in their beds the whole day.

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The parents are struggling with economic uncertainty and meeting the deadlines of their work from home. They are so exhausted and tired at the end of the day that they are hardly left with any time to share happy moments with their children. Moreover, social distancing which is imperative to reduce the spread of COVID-19 has made everyone feel lonely and cut off from the society.

This has tremendously increased dependence on gadgets. Continuous exposure to gadgets and phones has led to insomnia, restlessness and anxiety among the children. Overdependence on gadgets is casting a negative impact on the creativity of the children who love to spend hours together in social sites which again results in creating stress in them as they try to compete with their peers as to who got how many likes. As internet is full of all kinds of stuff, children get easily lured towards something which is not appropriate for them and it leaves a deep scar on their mind.

So it is time to introspect for all the elders in the family and see to it how home can be made a paradise for the children not through loads of materialistic things but by delving deep into the recesses of their children’s mind and listening and talking to them. By becoming empathetic they can well understand what is it that the child wants.

They must open all channels of communication with their children. They can unwind themselves by indulging in some joyful activities with their children. Meditation and exercise should be made a regular regime at home and children should be motivated to join in.  Children can be involved in household chores to make them feel responsible and taste a sense of achievement.

Parents and elders in the family can play a pivotal role in identifying the strength of their children and make them pursue something in that direction. Appreciation and motivation can go a long way in making the children self-reliant and efficient people. Let there be a no gadget time in a family when all the members share something joyful and inspiring with one another. This will really make the bond of all the members strong and act as a boosting agent against all odds.

Children should be encouraged to take care of their personal hygiene at a very early stage as cleanliness is a very effective weapon to combat any kind of disease. The sense of personal hygiene must be instilled in them in such a way that it becomes part and parcel of their lives.

Children should be sensitized with the new normal and encouraged to make the most of it by using their inherent skills and aptitude. A sense of achievement they feel through this will boost up their morale and help them scale new heights of success and prepare them for any unforeseen situation in the years to come. Let us all join hands to fight against the demon of COVID-19 and protect our future generation from disintegrating. As future lies on their shoulders, so empowering them is empowering humanity.

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