Children’s psychology and lockdown intervention
“Papa, eikhoi keidoungei school kadoino?”(Papa, when can we go to school?), my kid studying in the second standard in Don Bosco High School, Langjing frequently asked me with his school bag hanging down his stooping shoulder. I told him many things as answers to his question and tried to divert his mind in positive ways but I could not give guaranty for how much he could have been made to understand the present global situation. Actually the children do not know what COVID-19 Pandemic is though they learn many a new word about this disaster by heart. But I should say that they have been benefited with the changes of behavior with respect to their health hygiene.
This unseen ravager intervenes in the joyful lives of the innocent children. Though the ensuing lock-down is now giving a great psychological interference to the adults yet it has been indubitable to claim that the children are being deprived of all the joy and happiness of life. The joy and happiness of the tender minds of the children are being nipped at the bud by this unchivalrous ravager.
Since the Prime Minister of India declared a three-week nationwide lockdown starting from the midnight of the 25th of March 2020 to the 14th of April 2020, explaining that that it was an essential and effective measure for breaking the COVID-19 infection cycle. Physical distancing is a critical means to break the cycle of infection. During such stressful situations, all the educational institutions and other places where men congregate have been closed down. In addition to educating individuals to stay isolated, it is important to educate and prepare them to face the mental health issues they may endure during the period of lock-down. A heavy psychological blow puffs on the minds of the young school going children. They have been kept isolated from their playmates who are always minding of meeting friends and playing with them happily at the schools. Almost one in four children living under COVID-19 lockdowns, social restrictions and school closures are dealing with feelings of anxiety, with many at risk of lasting psychological distress, including depression. In recent surveys by Save the Children of over 6000 children and parents in the US, Germany, Finland, Spain and the UK, up to 65 per cent of the children struggled with boredom and feelings of isolation. During this risky situation, the role of teachers in addition to that of the parents is very great. By conducting online classes, the teachers not only imparting knowledge to the children make them feel that they are still in touch with the teachers doing the
normal activities of the schools. Since there is no other alternative means to replace the normal school activities during the great lock-down, the on-line classes are of great importance to save the children from being drowned by the COVID-19 psychological interference. Feelings of helplessness, loneliness and fear of being socially excluded, stigmatised or separated from loved ones are common in this pandemic, while prolonged stress, boredom and social isolation, as well as a lack of outdoor play, can lead to a higher number of mental health conditions in children, such as anxiety and even depression. Emphasising the on-line or e-learning classes, I should suggest that all the teachers should conduct value-based teachings rather than simply giving bookish knowledge to the children otherwise they cannot be saved from anxiety and depression.
Regarding the growing up students, the amount of anxiety and depression they are caught with may be greater because they are more conscious of the present situation. The bigger students are worrying about their academic careers. They think themselves that they will be academically lost. They have a strong feeling of stigma thinking that their feelings of competition in the field of education have been plucked off. At this risky situation, the role of the teachers is greater than that of the parents. During an online class, a student of Seth Anandaram Japuria School, Lucknow, happened to confront his teacher, “I have this wandering fear building up whenever I switch on the TV. All I come across is news of people dying everywhere. I am even scared to step out to my lawn.” And then he asked the most dreaded question, “Ma’am, are we all going to die?” He was advised to stop watching such news and focus on the better things happening in the world. Shilpi Kumar, PGT English, Seth Anandaram Jaipuria School, then had a major brainstorming session with the student to make him understand that this pandemic is here to teach us that we should focus more on the positive things. In the studies of calculation of mathematics, even the articulation of the signs of operations of addition and subtraction i.e. ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ makes the children startle to hear because these words are the common talk of the COVID-19 pandemic. See, how far the fear psychosis of the children goes deep into their minds.
Teachers have been fielding such questions for some time now, as part of their efforts to overcome the hurdles presented by the lockdown — from counselling students to keeping them engaged amidst the lockdown. Apart from imparting bookish knowledge within the parameter of the prescribed syllabus, teachers should teach the students how to overcome the dreaded anxieties and fears they come across during the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with the teachers, parents should also encourage their children
to be always correspondent with the teachers. This will be one way out to overcome their fear psychosis caused by the pandemic during this nationwide lock-down. It is said that children’s mental health has been the biggest casualty during the lockdown. These cases may be so severe if they are not brought to the hospital for medications. Parents should advise their children to keep up with their teachers by joining the online classes so that they can be free from the depression caused by the prolonged confinement at home.