Parenting in lockdown

As the latest government guideline on the Coronavirus pandemic mandated people above the age of 65, children below 10-years-old and pregnant women to continue remaining indoors during Lockdown-4.0, it did not spell good news for children, who have been cooped up at home for well over a month.

 The ongoing lockdown has impacted everybody’s lives, but the most affected are the kids. They have been confined to their homes by their parents, long before the COVID-19 lockdown imposed by the government. Now, with the latest advisory, they seem to have reached the zenith of boredom.

 It is getting increasingly tough for parents to restrict their children indoor. The home-confinement during the past two months is making them restive, leaving them feeling low and close to nervous breakdown. “These two months are crucial for children,” said Vaishali Sharma, who teaches in Delhi government school. “This is when they start their new academic session, make new friends and move ahead in life. And now, all the time there is news about pandemic and how many people succumb to it.”

 Amit Nidhi, who is an engineer by profession and has two young kids, informed that when the schools were initially closed, the kids were very happy. “They thought it was an early summer vacation. But there was a totally different environment at home. Initially, they enjoyed staying at home, with no homework or school pressure, watching television as much as they can. But now they seem to have reached saturation point. They enjoy nothing. We have seen a lot of mood swings in our kids.”

 Mukesh Rana, who is employed in the retail sector and has an eight-year-old boy, finds it difficult to meet his demands these days. Rana informed that he noticed a lot of changes in his child’s behaviour lately. He is getting annoyed easily and finds nothing enjoyable. “Initially, I took him to our terrace, so that he can have some fresh air and do some physical exercise. I try to play cricket or football with him on the roof. Now he doesn’t find it interesting at all. I think the children want to get back to their normal life,” Rana said.

 For cab driver Vipin Gupta, it has become impossible to take care of his three kids in his two-room flat in Jahangir Puri. As his house is too small and he doesn’t have access to the terrace, he finds it very difficult to deal with the children. “I tried to make them busy somehow with household chores or schoolwork. Now, they show no interest in anything. I can’t take them outside for fear of getting infected with the disease,” said Gupta.

 Ever since the lockdown was imposed, it has witnessed a drastic change in everybody’s life, mainly on children. It has totally altered their lifestyle ~ they don’t go to school or the playground, where they can meet up with their friends. They have no social life at all and, unlike adults, they were not allowed to even step out of their homes during this entire period. They are totally lacking any physical activity, leading them to obesity. At the same time, parents too, due to the economic crisis and job insecurity, are going through a bad phase. And children get caught up in this situation and are most affected. “There is no play time. There is no separation between home time and school time. Online classes are a new phenomenon and kids are not familiar with it.  I think, it will take time for them to get used to of it and take these classes seriously,” said Sharif Ahmed, who works in an MNC in Gurgaon.  

 “The anxiety and worries of the parents are easily absorbed by children, as they are very sensitive to changes in the environment. Many of these children and their parents may need counselling. It is important to recognise these symptoms for an early intervention,” said Dr Manish Mannan, HOD, Pediatrics and Neonatology, Paras Hospital, Gurgaon.

 “A healthy body is very important and regular physical exercise is essential in the present circumstances. Engage them in creative activities like drawing, craft work or even cooking. Any sign of anxiety or depression in the child must be given cognizance,” Dr Mannan added.

 Dr Samir Parikh, Director of Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, suggests that parents must avoid discussing about Cornavirus and its danger in front of kids. “I think, if kids are rattled, they won’t enjoy anything. Therefore, parents should always make a good environment in front of kids. They should make them talk to their friends and engage them in some sort of work,” he pointed out.

 Sumanlatha Vasudeva, clinical psychologist, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital, Bangalore, suggests that first of all one must explain to the children why we all are forced to be indoors and how important it is to follow restrictions. “I think we should set a time slot for the children’s daily workout to kill indoor time. And this will help them both physically and mentally. Keep them occupied. Nurture their hobbies and also encourage them to help in chores like making their bed and cleaning their rooms,” she suggested. 

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