― Dr. Bindu Kapoor - Counseling Psychologist
The Covid 19 Pandemic has lived with us for quite some time now. It’ll be premature to assume it’s behind us already, but thankfully its propensity seems to have slowed down. This in turn has led to offices, markets, malls, cinema halls, restaurants to open up and most recently, the government has given a nod to schools to have students offline.
While this is a step to normalcy, parents and students aren’t all high spirited about it. Several parents have raised their apprehensions publicly. A group based in Delhi collated the worries of their society’s parents. Some fear their child has lost the vigour to study, they are out of practice to wake up early and get ready, while others worry how they will socialize offline. Children have their own fears going back to the social interactions as they’ve become comfortable in their personal space at homes. Fears of body shaming, bullying and snarky comments are forcing them to shy away from going back to school again.
Dr. Bindu Kapoor, a Delhi based psychologist, recounts an incident with her student. “A student recently asked me - Do I have to act normally or ask others around about their pandemic stories at school or just begin from where I left off. Can I freely ask teachers my queries related to their subjects as earlier?” She highlights that children are so shaken up with the recent changes around them that they aren’t sure how to act in a school institution anymore.
Dr. Bindu highlights that the main point here is to understand that children do not remain oblivious to their surroundings, they too are aware of, process the situation, get affected and behave accordingly. They too have been active recipients of the pandemic anxiety and despair. Although it hasn’t been easy for them, children have responded with courage and did all that was required to survive through these challenging times.
In such difficult circumstances, the onus falls upon the schools and parents to be more sensitive and supportive towards children’s emotional needs. Parents need to tactfully handle kids as this is a huge change for them and their experience through this might set course for future emotional/social developments. Psychologists note that a child’s brain is like a photo album. Each memory gets added to the album of life. Parents should strive to create an album which brings smile and compassion to the child while teaching them the meaningful lessons of life. If you’re worried that this transitory phase might cause some difficulties,here are some tips for parents and schools that can help make this journey smooth and meaningful for the kids:
Ø Open communication about the pandemic days. Ask the kids to speak of their day to day life, focusing on what they have learnt not what they were supposed to (ideal expectations). Often they are just waiting to share their experiences - how they helped their father during isolation; Kept food at the neighbours door; made tea for granny when both the parents were infected; comforted their friend on losing a close family member and so on.
Ø Be mindful of how you talk about the child because his/her eyes and ears are on you all the time. Your version becomes their self image and gets etched in their memories like bricks and cement while building a tower.
Ø Listening patiently to the child. Speak to a child after school to know what he/she absorbed that day and what’s going on in his/her brain.
Ø Do not apply force for sending them to the school rather talk about it to the teachers, school counselor or a psychologist.
Ø Avoid talking about your fears and apprehensions about sending them to school in the common room.
Ø The educators have to not only extend a warm welcome to their pupils but also add a pinch or two of compassion as well. The gesture would give a sign of acceptance and comfort to those who have been grossly affected during this rough phase.
Ø Keeping the expectations to the minimal mode would be a good idea to warm the kids up in this transitory phase.
Ø Accepting them unconditionally and free of the past baggage would truly be a fresh start and would do wonders in rekindling the social relations in their minds.
Ø ”Come What May, I Am Always There”, use positive phrases and messaging from both home and school. This would be one huge reinforcer to kick start the engine
Ø Enhanced fruitful interactions Both schools & parents should explore more opportunities to collaborate and do activities to invest children’s energies to fruitful purposes. Wiser the Investments higher the returns.
Although these are trying times, the worst is behind us and our children have fared through it. Through support and compassion from both schools and parents, we can guide our children to have a positive life ahead.
SECURE AND SAFE HAVEN IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR