Parents advised to keep a close eye on how the pandemic affects children

Parents advised to keep a close eye on how the pandemic affects children

Parents and guardians are advised to keep a close eye on how the pandemic affects young children. The psychological effects of the Coronavirus on children are similar to those seen in adults says Dr Anina du Toit, a clinical psychologist in Windhoek.
“There is definitely signs of fear, anxiety and worry about their immediate environment. They are also worried about people dying around them and them becoming sick themselves. They are possibly worried about medical treatment. Will they have to go to hospital? So I think their concerns centre more around the practicalities of the Coronavirus and how it is going to be dealt with should it happen to them.”
Dr du Toit is the owner of Let’s Talk Psychologists, a Windhoek-based practice.
The clinical psychologist says sometimes children do not have the vocabulary to express exactly how they feel, so adults need to check for any changes in their normal behaviour.
“Where you have a child that was able to do certain things, complete certain tasks, be alone, be able to look after themselves, generally happy, then that is possibly an indication that the child is OK, but where their normal routine starts to change and where children start displaying behaviour that you wouldn’t normally associate with the child, like acting out, temper tantrums, refusing to eat, waking up at night, bed wetting, anger outbursts or starting to vent against their siblings, then, that is normally an indication or it’s generally an indication that the child is not coping too well,” she said.
Young children are feeling the effects of the Coronavirus.
With the closing of schools, the usual methods of learning and teaching have changed drastically.
Some children relied on teachers and face-to-face lessons to understand their schoolwork.
Now, parents have to assist with lessons while working from home at the same time.
Activities like visiting friends and family are limited and strict social distancing protocols have become the norm.
This can be challenging for growing young children who often rely on a structured environment or a scheduled routine to function properly.
Dr du Toit says, Coronavirus fears in children can be worsened by how adults are dealing with the effects of the pandemic at home.
“Exposure to social media, to things being said in the household and what is also happening is that children are at an increased risk of incidents at the home themselves, where there may be interpersonal violence, where the house itself was not safe. I think we need to understand that people are under a severe amount of stress because of the pandemic. Many people had to undergo pay cuts, maybe lost their jobs, changes in working hours, worried about the finances in April where whole families were closed up in possibly small dwellings, staying at home, possibly not having support systems like we would have during normal times and all these things accumulate and eventually it has an impact on the child’s ability to function,” she added.
Dr du Toit says adults must make children understand why the strict regulations are in place without instilling fear.
She also advised parents to spend more time with their children.
Guardians should also restrict the amount of time small children spend on electronic devices, adding that it’s not conducive to their development.
Despite all the uncertainty brought about by pandemic, Dr du Toit says adults must try by all means, to maintain a sense of security.
“There are so many things that are changing in children’s lives that the thing that we can control and that we can keep the same that we try and maintain that rhythm as much as we possibly can. So keep a daily routine where the child can predict what is going to happen, and where they have a set schedule of things that they need to do, and getting up in the morning, still having breakfast, spending some time on school work, leisure time, time to play outside, family time, less time on TV."
She advised gardening and board games to help children stay away from technological devices.