The Covid-19 pandemic has created havoc in the everyday life that we have known all these years. Children too haven’t been spared. It has had a profound impact on their health and psychosocial well-being. Since the first lockdown, schools have been closed, and online classes have essentially prevented children from getting access to a truly learner-friendly learning environment. Further restriction of movement has constrained their access to socialization, playdates, meeting friends and family – all this is critical for their psychosocial well-being and development.

Children have been living with a heightened sense of fear and anxiety. The pandemic has also brought stress for parents and caregivers, posing challenges to their capacity of helping children in such circumstances. The second wave of this virus has brought with it a much more infectious variant that is proving to be more lethal. A lot of children are losing their parents to the infection. All this has led to short-term as well as long-term psychosocial and mental health implications for children. These children need support and handholding.

How to determine if a child needs help

If the child has disturbed sleep, experiences nightmares, has a poor appetite, remains agitated, is non-attentive and has separation-related anxiety, then they are in need of support. The child can also complain of pain in the stomach or head without any physical reason. Extreme clingy behaviour where they fear being left alone with chances of manifesting an entirely new fear like that of darkness or becoming claustrophobic are also being observed. In the case of young children, they will likely lose interest in playing or any such activity. The child will cry more than usual and for no apparent reason.

How do you help a child who is likely facing mental distress – Some basic steps

Here’s some steps parents and caregivers can take when they see the child facing emotional distress. However, if the child’s distress levels are really high and they continue to remain distraught for a long time, it’s important to seek professional advice.

  • Parents/caregivers need to listen to their children when they share anything about how they feel about the ongoing situation or a certain event.
  • Try engaging with the children, keep them busy with an activity like singing, dancing, storytelling, board games and others. Use simple tools to keep them calm. Make them feel comfortable in their surroundings by making changes they desire, like adding colourful curtains to their room.
  • Reassure the child that you will keep them safe and explain the new guidelines and precautions laid down by the authorities, like using a double mask.
  • Allow children to talk to their friends and other family members on the phone, make the best use of technology, (like video calling).
  • Patience and empathy of the caregiver/parent will go a long way in helping the child, so be kind at all times and don’t be harsh with them, no matter if they misbehave or ask too many questions.
  • Be reassuring and tell children that this too shall pass.

Written by: Rashmi Kashyap

Children at the Centre of COVID’s Second Surge – Help #ProtectAMillion

As the Coronavirus tsunami sweeps cities and towns across India, the vulnerable children who already grappled with issues like lack of education and healthcare, compromised safety and abuse, are at a high risk of suffering even more. The pandemic threatens to reverse the gains made for children and jeopardizes their future gravely.

Save the Children is geared up to respond to this unprecedented emergency and will be reaching 1 million children and their communities. Our response will cover providing Oxygen Support, COVID Care Kits, Hygiene Kits, Food Baskets, Education Support, Livelihood Support and Psycho-social Counselling. We cannot do this alone. Help us reach those in real need by making a contribution DONATE NOW.

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