I can't help but wonder, what all the innocent children went through this year, a year that will be marked as an evolutionary dark year for humankind.
For a school aged child, all that matters is meeting their friends and teachers. A child only looks forward to that 30 minute recess and that is their entire world. Their biggest problem is passing the exam and their biggest achievement is going to a pyjama-party with their friends or maybe a school picnic. Imagine if this is their whole life. How are these children coping with the sudden shut down of their world?
They say that the memories you build in your adolescent years can stay in your subconscious mind forever. These memories often impact the decisions we take as an adult. Is this covid creating a whole generation of youngsters who will be growing up to be Germaphobes or Thixophobes (fear of touching or being touched)?
It's so intriguing to understand what really goes on inside the mind of a child. Adults themselves are unable or at least having difficulty coping with this situation and the mental trouble it brings. How are these fragile minds dealing with it?
Just to acquire a more profound knowledge and try to understand at a deeper level, I sat down with a teenager to discuss this. A teenage mind, is completely different from the mind of a ten-year-old. A teenager believes that whatever they imagine is real, and they imagine a thousand things every day. They are overly sensitive to situations and tend to act accordingly. Hence, to analyse child psychology in the best way possible, it seemed like a good idea to hear it from a representative of this whole generation.
She's a super active 14-year-old, who aspires to choose Biomedicine for further studies and never fails to shine when it comes to grades, she's a popular girl whilst being a teacher's pet. Her daily life involves interaction and she's extremely involved in academics. Now with online classes, her grades seem to have fallen from A to B+ and she's hooked on to Instagram. The reason being too much time to spare and the need to stay popular. The classes are virtual and so her presence needs to be felt virtually too. The level of distraction is high and the anxiety to not miss out on anything current is high too. The students call it FOMO (Fear of missing out). The chat window during online classes always stays open. The worst thing for her was not being able to talk and not being able to meet her friends post school, which led to a major fear of missing out.
Children will remain diverted and teachers are taking utmost care to keep them interested and engaged during the online session. This is what we strive to achieve at Champs learning as well. However, since the classes are happening at home, more than 50% responsibility lies with the parent to keep the child engaged and interested in the online session. How can this be done? Simply by monitoring the child and actively participating in their activities. After every session, initiating an informal dialogue with the child about what they learnt and what they liked/ disliked about the class today. It's simple, yet, effective. It enables the child to pay more attention and since the child knows he/she will be questioned, he/she will try a little more to take the class seriously.
We have been talking about how a child only cares about meeting friends and being in their company. With all the social distancing, this is the best opportunity for parents to provide the necessary emotional support to the child. Don't act like a parent, rather be a friend. Have your planned lunch sessions, talk about what they feel and engage in harmless gossip. Do not try to monitor them excessively, let them have their space. Share some informal interests, like Netflix together or cooking together. Try your best to make sure they miss their friends a little less and feel they are being emotionally supported.
As adults we are extremely bored working from home, so you can imagine how bored the overactive inquisitive children must be! Creating a fun environment at home is extremely important and do not leave that responsibility solely on Netflix and Instagram. Try joining an interesting class together with your child, online dancing, singing, music etc. Something that you both can enjoy and cherish. Make some good memories.
The most important thing is keeping hope alive. Hope for a normal, happy life. Social distancing, not meeting people, wearing a mask is not the new normal, it's the temporary abnormal and make sure that you and your children know this and believe this. Life is beautiful and every aspect should be embraced. We are meant to be social and don't let that hope in your child diminish. Make plans for the future with the children and avoid negative and scary discussions with them. Don't discuss anything with uncertainty, rather be full of positive future plans. It can be a trip to the shopping centre or a trip to Hawaii, say it with conviction and involve your child.
The challenge that we are facing right now, the entire human race is in it together and that alone is a united shared experience, which should be taken positively. Don't let this phase dim the light in your child, fan it and let it shine brighter than ever.