Sunday, March 26, 2023 | Ramadan 3, 1444 H
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Children back to school need support

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@kabeeryousef -

Children who are going back to school after staying home for nearly 18 months need emotional support, as they are experiencing acclimatising issues in the "new environment", according to experts.

Some are seeing their friends after a long gap, while others are getting to experience the school environment for the first time.

In the new normal situation, the teachers encourage the students to talk in the class, which was a complete 'no' during the normal situation. The pandemic necessitated this measure because the students generally were found with loss of confidence in schools.

Reports suggest that many children were found gloomy and withdrawn. "Yes, there's a visible difference in the kids' behaviour and majority are still trying to break the walls within themselves as they had been confined to the four walls of their homes most of the time in the past 18 months," says a teacher from an expatriate school.

"To me, the predominant reason could be that they were cut off from their friends, got accustomed to electronic gadgets and remained themselves in their rooms most of the time," she adds.

Dr Benny Varghese Paduvan, Vice-principal, Psychologist at the Village International School, says that it's not just the children but the parents and the teachers are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, insecurity issues, panic, and panic attacks and the like and emotional support needs to be given to the children.

"From the many calls that I receive, many families are managing anxious and depressive symptoms in their kids and teens who have been isolated for months. This rise in social anxiety and withdrawal in school children and teens during the COVID-19 pandemic may be best explained by the cycles that perpetuate these symptoms in “the new normal," says Dr Benny.

Additionally, the social distancing measures resulted in less face-to-face and social contacts communication was mainly through electronic devices. Added to it, longer screen times during the pandemic also led to such issues, he said.

Many kids feel like returning to their homes as soon as the classes begin and feel unmotivated, experience low energy and helplessness.

"Children might also feel low on problem-solving skills, exploration, and they feel attending classes just for the sake of their parents, and there are signs dependency," adds Dr Benny.

These experts in child psychology suggest that cognitive-behavioural strategies to reduce anxiety and depression among schoolchildren and teens.

"One cannot swim until exposed to the water... the students should be sent to schools by giving all sorts of moral support and they shall be given opportunities for social interaction with classmates, peers, and family members," Dr Benny suggested.

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