How has the pandemic affected your child’s social development?

For children, brief breaks in education can have a lasting and adverse effect. Many will and have forgotten what they had initially learnt in school.

The very nature of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced people to stay indoors and limit their social interactions. While it has impacted people across age groups, for children, it has been more difficult. They have had to switch to online classes, as opposed to actual physical ones in school, stay away from friends and family members, etc.

These things may have naturally impacted their behavioural and social development skills. According to Dr Gurudutt Bhat, consultant paediatrics, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, for children, brief breaks in education can have a lasting and adverse effect. Many will and have forgotten what they had initially learnt in school.

“Though online education has taken over, we must not forget that it still is not a viable option for many living in remote areas or not financially well-off. Not every child has the privilege of an appropriate environment meant for pursuing education from home. Such children have been the most affected, thus harming their intellectual development,” he says.

The doctor explains that multiple reports have showcased the most common psychosocial and behavioural problems among children and adolescents in the pandemic as:

* Inattention
* Clinging
* Distraction
* Fear of asking questions about the pandemic

“The change was more prominent in those with pre-existing mental health conditions.”

“There’s definitely been a lack of playtime with their peers, interaction in class, which has affected children’s social skills. Pediatricians saw an increased prevalence of delayed speech and language in kids. It’s been proven that past traumatic or unnatural childhood experiences have negatively impacted an individual’s development.

“Many children don’t have a healthy atmosphere at home owing to parental angst, arguments, etc. It is also seen that work and family pressure have made parents unable to spend as much time with their children. From this, some develop feelings of loneliness, and the pandemic has fueled the same,” he says.

Not only this, but many schools have also overburdened students with excess assignments, and sitting long hours in front of a screen has taken a toll, with Zoom fatigue setting in.

So, how can kids be helped, and what should parents know?

“Talk to your children and try to understand them. Spend as much time as possible with them, learn about their concerns,” Dr Bhat advises.

– Be there for them as a parent and confidante.
– Give them their space when needed, especially for adolescents.
– Help them stay fit with a proper diet.
– Engage them in exercise. Perform low to moderate intensity workouts together.
– Teach them Covid hygiene protocols, which are important now more than ever, with schools gradually re-opening.
– Show them how to wear a mask and get a comfortable fit for them.

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