As COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand in the world, in which only one thing is certain that is the current outbreak will have profound impact not only on the health and economic situation but also on the psychosocial well-being of societies across nations.
The impacts will be felt differently among different population groups. Among these, one group will face additional challenges to understand, absorb, and deal with the changes that COVID-19 are bringing to our world.
Children may express psychological distress (anxiety, sadness) by acting out in a different way – each child behaves differently. Some may become silent while others may feel and express anger and hyperactivity. Caregivers need to be patient with children and understand their emotions.
According to science, the psychology of a child is heavily dependent on social factors. Children are meant to socialize, engage in physical play, and sensory stimulation. This is important for their brain growth, personality development, and social skills training. Psychologists have pinpointed factors such as peer influence, vicarious learning, community interactions, and physical reinforcements in a child’s environment that affect overall growth and positive well-being, said Ms. Kunashni Parikh Clinical and Sports Psychologist Behavioural Neuroscience Research Scholar, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Ms. Parikh the lack of social stimulation in the covid era has led to a serious stunt in the psychosocial growth of a child’s persona. Children are forced to remain indoors due to safety measures and have been missing out on the experiential learning that comes with being physically present in a variety of social environments such as schools, gardens, neighbourhood playgrounds, sports practice, cultural activities, and extended family gatherings. All these limitations and shift to digitalization has led to mental fatigue, physical restlessness, lethargy, poor food choices, and weakened social relationships with friends, relatives, teachers, and mentors.
Poor social stimulation has also been linked to lower levels of emotional intelligence, interpersonal awareness, leadership skills, decision-making, and community pride. Children also experience low mood, irritability, frustration, anxiety, and throw more tantrums when they feel out of control of the situation. Younger children might not understand the situation completely and wonder why they are not allowed to go outside and play with their friends. This might lead to hidden anxiety and a sense of insecurity as they might think that they are being punished, unloved, or being left behind by their friends. Careful understanding and explaining to the child with reasons and patience is essential for their feelings of security and belonging. Older children might develop anxiety due to uncertainty of future events, exam and career-related stress, missing memorable school moments, and social bonding that leads to friendships of a lifetime. Listening to our young adults and guiding them to develop a resilient mindset in these times of adversity is essential to ensure their emotional and psychological well-being, he added.
Social stimulation is a key aspect of our psycho-social functioning and overall well-being. The sooner we resolve the ongoing global crisis, the sooner we will be able to resume these essential social interactions. Until then, let’s be cognizant of the situation and the ways in which we can reduce the social isolation of the youth.