Dr. Lini Balakrishnan, Consultant Paediatrician, Motherhood Hospitals, Sarjapur, Bangalore
COVID-19 has had a ripple effect on our lives. Most of us are facing challenges; not only related to dealing with COVID but, financial challenges, lack of food/shelter, etc as well. There is constant update in the news about the virus and this tends to worry a lot of us. It is not easy dealing with something so serious as a pandemic.
The second wave has made us more stressed as most of us are dealing with the loss of family and friends. There is a new variant that has been found in India which is labelled as ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO. It is not easy living in such times.
Are Children also suffering from anxiety?
Children and young teenagers have had to deal with these dark times very early in their life. This tends to make a person more anxious about things. Challenging time in one’s life can have long-term effects on them. Adults tend to forget that they have a sense of the world and have their fair share of experiences, but their children have not really had any experiences, to begin with.
With so much happening around them, children might be inclined to feel that the world is a dangerous place for them. They might start thinking that their defence is only to be defensive or be furious. Stress, anxiety, and insecurity might start controlling their life.
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Stress/anxiety affecting children
It is normal to feel a certain amount of anxiety while you deal with the pandemic, but a high level of anxiety and stress can be a cause of concern. Increased levels of stress can cause a child to have:
- Worsening of any underlying medical condition and inflames physical issues
- Racing thoughts
- Children may have anger outbursts or be teary
- Might develop new fears
- Trouble sleeping at night
- May have no desire to eat, play or interact
What can a parent do to help cope with their child’s anxiety?
Every child reacts in a different manner according to their age and levels of anxiety. Some children may become overly attached while some might withdraw themselves from the parent. There is no one way to resolve your child’s anxiety. As a parent, we should lead our child’s way. What we can do is:
- First and foremost, find ways to deal with your own emotions about the current situation, because children tend to pick up on the mood around who they are.
- Acknowledge their feelings. One must never avoid such topics, as it tends to make the child feel even more anxious/insecure about what he/she is feeling.
- Let them know that some things in their lives are out of their control. Teach them how to solve problems/situations that one can do something about.
- Talk to them and try to find out what they know and answer some of their questions by providing reassuring facts
- Decrease their screen time, because too much exposure to social media can be harmful
- Encourage them to play, find out their interests and hobbies. Try spending more time with them.
- Ensure that regular exercise and sleep requirements are met
- Try to fix a routine for them as it might help them take their mind off other things. Help them find a balance between fun, relaxation, and productivity
If necessary, you can also pay a visit to a child phycologist- it might make the child’s life a bit easy. These few tips might help your child in coping with the anxiety and stress of the pandemic.