Psychologists urge parents to engage kids to prevent anxiety, depression

Child psychologists are of the opinion that children under 13 years of age are in the grip of anxiety following the extended closure of schools and in the absence of any meeting or interaction with classmates and friends amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vidya Ramaswamy, a child psychologist at a private hospital in Chennai told IANS: “Children are the most vulnerable as far as mental health is concerned. This are their growing years — both mentally and physically and one complements the other.

“While online classes are taking place, children are missing the humantouch factor, their group games and group meetings and hence most of the children are experiencing enhanced anxiety levels.”

While the the first wave of the pandemic did not affect children much, during the second wave children in sizeable numbers were affected by the disease.

Moreover, children are also worried whether their parents would contract the disease and whether they will lose them to the pandemic. This has increased the anxiety levels of children, the psychologists said.

A Class 7 student of a prestigious school in Madurai, told IANS: “It’s been ages since I’ve seen my classmates or participated in a touch and go game. No family get-togethers, no outdoor games, no movies, no eateries, and no vacation.

“It’s shutdown and I am anxious on whether my mother and father will catch the disease and what I will do. I am getting more and more secluded and wants to have the normal life which we used to back.”

Rajith Das, a practicing child clinical psychologist in Chennai said that what was told by the student in Madurai, is typical of children in that age group.

Das said, “What she said is true for a vast majority of children, they are missing their growing up years and this is having an impact on their social behavior.

“Children will turn more and more irritable and more and more anxiety pangs will grip them.”

Psychologists unanimously believe that parents must be more communicable to the children and a time table should be set up so that they are involved in activities, both curricular and extra curricular.

The psychologists also said that the children must not be provided with tabs and mobile phones for long duration instead they should be asked to draw pictures, play game of chess, write poetry, read good books and engage themselves in other activities.

Muthulakshmy, a pediatric psychologist in Chennai told IANS: “If you engage children through the day most of the issues are gone. They need total parental support and then they need engagement.

“If they are engaged properly, they will become happier and they should be given tasks which they could meet up within a day — this is another way of engaging the children.

“Mild exercises for at least 15 minutes is a must for the all-round development of a child.”