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Going back to school even after a summer break can be stressful for any child—so you can only imagine what the kids who were home for 2 years living through the Covid-19 pandemic must be feeling about returning to the classroom. Certain problems are affecting the mental health of kids and they are finding it difficult to fit in the new and difficult routine. Especially the little children, who started school with online classes are facing a tough time adjusting to the new normal.
Two years of online learning has taken an emotional, mental and developmental toll. Many children have not just fallen behind in their studies, but missed out on big milestones and suffered from a lack of peer interaction that helps develop crucial social skills. A lot of parents have been seeing some younger kids, or even nine- or ten-year-olds, get clingy.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Khushboo Thakker Garodia, Homeopath, Trichologist, Nutrition and Stress Management Expert, to help us understand how the new routine has impacted the mental health of kids.
Dr Garodia says, “Parents have to deal with anxiety and uncertainty among kids. While you need to reassure your children that it’s safe to be away from them, you also need to encourage them to be careful. Parents are dealing with a tough time trying to prepare their children to be flexible in case the situation changes. Pandemic has made parenting a daunting task”
Encourage your child to be social, set up play dates with school friends, this way they are more connected by the time to get back to school.
As a parent it is very important for you to be confident and enthusiastic about your child going back to school. This sends your child the positive message that they’ll cope and have fun when they get back into the school routine.
“Talk to your child, tell them that school will be starting soon. 10 days before school starts, gradually get back into the school routine. Set a screen curfew and a fixed bedtime and wake up time,” says Dr Garodia.
Kids do the best when they feel loved, especially by their primary caregivers. Spend quality time with them and listen, validate and empathize with their feelings.
Ask your child to talk about his / her worries and help them ease it. Validate and accept your child’s feelings about the situation.
Let your child know it is absolutely ok to feel nervous or uncertain about returning to school, and gently reassure them that they’ll get through it
Attach positive meaning to the pandemic. We all do best when we can attach a positive meaning to a situation. Dr Garodia suggests saying this to your child, “This pandemic has been unexpected and not been easy. But thanks to this we’ve been able to have a lot more fun times together. We have learnt so many new things and baked so many yummies together”
If your child is feeling so anxious that you think it might be hard for them to return to school, it would be a good idea to let the school know in advance. There are plenty of things school staff can do to help. Also consult your pediatrician to guide you to the right counselor who can help you and your child.