The current global turmoil due to the coronavirus pandemic is having a severe effect with everyone being forced to adjust to the changing dynamics of social and interpersonal relationships. With most of the nations in a lockdown mode, an important aspect it to be considered is the impact of covid-19 on children. Fortunately, children are less commonly affected. Out of the total cases with coronavirus infection, only about 2% are children. Also, children have a milder clinical manifestation than adults. As such, restriction of physical activities and social isolation due to the lockdown is more of a factor in the mental and physical health of children during this crisis.
Physical impact: – The physical activities of children have significantly come down in this period thereby leading to weight gain. The problem of overweigh and obesity among children was already common in Delhi NCR and the lockdown has made the issue worse. With children unable to play games in the playground they seek entertainment on mobile phones, tablets, laptops etc. The battle of making children play real games rather than virtual has been dealt a big blow due to the lockdown. Research indicates that screen time beyond one hour adversely affects the mental abilities, including cognition and higher functions, in children.
Mental impact: – The anxiety and worries of the parents are easily absorbed by children, as they are very sensitive to changes in the environment. This may result in pessimistic thoughts leading to depression, anxiety and loneliness. . Another major negative impact is by the mainstream electronic media carrying a regular feed of tragic news leading to an increase in their anxiety levels and attendant sleep disorders, somatoform disorders, and depression. Many of these children and their parents may need counselling. It is important to recognize these symptoms for an early intervention.
Solution – A healthy body is very important and regular physical exercise is essential in the present circumstances. At home, skipping, treadmill, sit-ups, pushups, jumping, dancing etc can be done depending on the age and ability of the child. It is a good idea if parents and kids do it together, it would be fun time for the family. Not only will this keep the body healthy but will also keep the depression away. Restrict screen time and news time for children. Engage them in creative activities like drawing, craft work or even cooking. Any sign of anxiety or depression in the child must be given cognizance. The parents must talk to their children to comfort them and allay their anxiety. Take professional help if required. Another important aspect to be kept in mind is the diet. With reduction of physical activity the diet too should be modified accordingly more of green vegetables and fresh fruits and less of carbohydrates, specially sweets and junk foods.
Finally we must let our children that nothing in this world in permanent. Bad times too will pass away and the experience may turn us into better human beings. It is a good idea to inculcate optimism in your child.