Parenting throughout pandemic | The Indian Specific
The potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children is a growing concern. There are fears that the new mutant could infect children, despite medical experts warning of such alarming predictions.
School closings have not only impaired children’s psychological well-being and holistic development, but have also increased the responsibility of parents, who now have the additional task of supporting their children with online lessons. These are stressful times for parents as they have to balance their personal life, work and child-rearing. The pressure on parents and carers who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic is also increasing.
Then there are families who have been severely affected by the disease – families where one or both parents have had to quarantine themselves so that the children can manage on their own; Many families have lost their loved ones to Covid-19.
In such stressful situations, parenting becomes even more difficult as it is difficult to meet the basic needs of young children such as nutrition and education. High levels of stress can affect their ability to be supportive caregivers, which is critical to children’s mental health.
Persistent lack of access to education, health and social services can affect the growth and development of young children, especially children living in vulnerable conditions. The environment we offer a child in their first six years plays an important role in their cognitive and emotional development. These are base years for children, and a safe and happy childhood is extremely important for children to make the most of their skills and talents as they grow.
According to Bal Swaraj, an online tracking portal developed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), up to 9,346 children (as of May 29, 2021) aged 0-17 are affected by Covid-19, 7,464 lost one parent, 1,742 have been orphaned and 140 have been abandoned since March 2020. Studies have shown that children who lose their parents at an early age are more prone to psychological trauma and depression. The loss of one or both parents can also affect school performance.
Particular attention needs to be paid to the parents’ psychological well-being as it is directly related to a child’s growth. Raising parents’ awareness of the skills necessary to provide safe and conducive growth environments for children should be a priority. Since parents have to take care of their mental well-being as well as their children, a broad-based psychological first aid training will make a big contribution to dealing with unprecedented stress. Self-regulation of fear and anxiety is also vital for parents. As a father of two young children, I can say that children are quick to observe and adapt. It becomes even more important for parents and caregivers to use optimistic words while expressing their feelings. UNICEF Suggests Children Need Parents’ Assurances That An Illness Due To Covid-19 Is Treatable; It is important that parents and caregivers stay calm. Listen to your children, take time out for them, follow a routine. These small steps can be helpful in keeping a child happy.
Children’s mental health should be an integral part of public health efforts during the pandemic. Available mental health resources need to reach children in need through community-based services (or schools, if possible). Central and state governments should take more action to help parents share the extra burden of providing resources for their children, especially in rural areas, and for underserved families. The Ministry of Social Justice and Mental Health Strengthening KIRAN’s 24-hour toll-free hotline (1800-599-0019), which aims to provide the first line of advice in response to the increasing mental health problems faced by people due to the Covid-19 pandemic be made widely known.
The positive relationship between parents / carers and children in the first few years of a child’s life is a motor for their whole life. This can only be achieved if we as parents take care of our emotional wellbeing and become more concerned with our children. In India, mental health issues are heavily stigmatized – the limited access and availability of mental health services coupled with the stigma could leave many parents vulnerable, which in turn will affect children in the long term.
The government must take appropriate measures to mitigate the brewing mental health crisis resulting from the pandemic. Businesses can promote family-friendly policies such as paid parental leave, access to affordable and quality childcare, etc. Initiatives must be inclusive and extended to all employees in a company regardless of gender or employment status. The pandemic is an opportunity to rethink our existing policies, programs and institutions and to develop a new approach to holistic child development.
The author is a member of parliament