By Ms. Manju Garg, Teacher, Ahlcon International School
Did you notice that the letter ‘C’ has shot to prominence and brought a sea of change in the lives of children through this Covid -19?
Millions of children have been adversely affected by the COVID‐19 pandemic. They have become vulnerable and sensitive to the changes around them which they had never seen or experienced. Words like corona virus, cases, confirmed, confinement, containment, curfew, chloroquine, cemetery, crematorium have suddenly been most heard and used changing their world completely. The closing down of schools have impacted them by confining them within the four walls of their houses and exposing them to the uncertainties, traumas of seeing the loved ones in the grip of the fatal disease and perhaps also losing at them at times. Fears, anxieties, and uncertainties have surrounded them, leaving them to learn some lessons which have been very heavy. The innocent souls who were opening their wings to take flight have been severed by this pandemic. Isolation, physical distance, and loneliness are challenging situations and children are missing interacting with their own peer group bringing several behavioural changes. They hopelessly see their parents and their family members struggling to meet the ends from providing medication to looking after their needs and providing support whether emotional or psychological.
Focusing on digital education, due to school closures, has inevitably widened the learning gap and children from low and high socioeconomic backgrounds are worst impacted. Anxiety about the future has risen as examinations have been postponed or cancelled because of the pandemic. These issues have added to their plight. Lack of competitive environment which schools provide for their overall growth has suddenly dropped marring the enthusiasm of children to excel, adapt to diverse environments and develop social connections thus, hampering their psychological and personal development.
One more major consequence of lockdowns and school closures is that some children are not able to engage in outdoor physical activities, especially if they do not have access to outside space, which add to their health problems like increase in weight and other disorders. It becomes very important for parents to monitor the behaviour patterns of their children that lead to inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle as maintaining regular physical activity at home is an important for healthy living during this COVID‐19 pandemic.
Students have also got addicted to social media and the Internet as they want to keep in touch with their peers, in turn getting distracted from doing their schoolwork and getting exposed to inappropriate content and cyberbullying. Social media exposes children to a greater risk of stress, anxiety, low self‐esteem and even suicide attempts.
Yet to deal with these difficult times, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and health specialists and educational institutions have advised parents to be caring, honest, reassuring them and explaining what practical measures they should take to keep themselves and others safe. Taking care of their nutrition has become imperative to children’s physical and mental development. This includes good balanced healthy diet laced with vitamins and proteins essential for growth as they have started facing issues like back pain, eye strain and disturbed sleep patterns.
Spending time with family is important to help them imbibe the qualities of empathy, humanity, and solidarity as they now need to learn the value of human life. It will also develop their self‐confidence build up greater awareness about unknown facts of health and hygiene, strengthening their inner self to face such challenges in future, building new horizons beyond home and school, learning to valuing and caring for nature, selfless devotion towards humankind.
In my opinion, the COVID‐19 pandemic has by now made a far‐reaching and long‐term impacts on children worldwide. Although some of these may be positive, the negative impacts are devastating and shall be affecting millions of children in some way or the other. Only continuous efforts and deliberations at the level of International healthcare organizations, children’s welfare organizations, governments, teachers and parents can minimize the impact the pandemic currently and, in the post, COVID‐19 era.