Posted on Mar 28, 2022 | Author Dr. Sana Saleem Khan
Recently the government decided to open schools for offline mode for the first time in the last two years since the inception of the COVID-19 Pandemic.It has been a time of loss for children, they have missed out on a lot by not being able to beinschools. Going to school is not only about book learning, but plays a very important role in the overall personality and development of a child.
At school children spend a lot of time in the classroom where they can easily transfer infections to one another so parents and their children themselves must be educated in maintaining safe and hygienic practices to prevent the transmission of diseases, especially during the covid era.
A few strategies may be followed by children and their parents to ensure they go to school and stay healthy.
All school-going children should be vaccinated up to date for all vaccine-preventable diseases including covid vaccination for those who are eligible. During the pandemic, there was a steep drop in the incidence of routine immunization for children due to various logistical and psychosocial issues. Parents must be educated and reminded of all vaccinations that are needed for the children. Governments and primary care physicians must ensure vaccination drives and explain the importance of regular immunization for all children. At present, the Center for Disease Control states that all children older than 12 years should receive covid- 19 vaccination. In many countries, the covid vaccine has been started for children older than 5 years.in India, at present, we have covid 19 immunization for adolescents aged 15 years and above.
Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of illnesses in the classroom where children come in contact with each other and can easily spread germs especially if they scratch the nose or rub their eyes. Then they can spread these germs to the family as well. Hand washing along with vaccinations, wearing masks and social distancing is the best way to stop the spread of Covid 19 infection. when hand washing is not possible hand sanitization with sanitisers containing at least 60% alcohol is the next best thing to kill germs. children must be taught the basics of hand hygiene; they should wash hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds with soap and water. Germs travel far and wide. Get your children into the habit of covering their mouth and nose with tissues while coughing or sneezing.They can cough or sneeze into their elbow if they do not have a tissue but should avoid doing it into the hand.Remind your child not to pick the nose or touch the eyes as germs are easily transmitted into the body through the mucus membrane.
BOOSTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
It is important to keep children’s bodies healthy so that their immune systems can work properly by getting enough sleep, maintaining healthy diets, managing stress levels and hand washing which will help reduce the chances of getting colds, flu and other infections.
GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE
Making sure your children get adequate sleep is a crucial part of keeping them healthylack of sleep can lead to poor concentration, obesity, depression and injuries. Sleep is an important part of a child’s physical and emotional health. it also plays an important role in how well they do in school. According to their age groups, younger children need at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep while adolescents may require around 7 to 8 hours. Inadequate sleep is linked to poor scholastic performances in children.
Children should have a good and nutritious breakfast before going to school a balanced breakfast of proteins and complex carbohydrates is known to be an important factor for brain functioning and maintaining good energy levels throughout the day. we should offer good healthy snacks to children in between meals. Snacks are also important because then combined with healthy meals they help children get the nutrients that are needed. children should carry a healthy tasty lunch to school in a variety of major food groups. Food items in the lunch boxes should be made visibly attractive and tasty especially for the younger children to ensure they complete their meals on time. Try to avoid high fat and sugary snacks and packaged sweet juices/shakes as they don’t have any nutritive value and only provide unnecessary Sugars to the child.
When a child starts going to school, he can face a lot of situations on a day-to-day basis, especially for a young child who has never gone to school before, the school may turn out to be a stressful situation. Every child has a different reaction, some children maybe very eager to go to school every day and meet with their friends, some younger children may show signs of separation anxiety and would have been coaxed to go to school every day in the morning.
Homework, test, projects, public speaking, all of these may contribute to the increasing level of anxiety in children.It has been proven that stress and anxiety can hurt the health of children.Parents need to be educated on the signs and symptoms of stress in children and should be aware of how to manage them. Many children are still reeling from the emotional and psychological turmoil’s the covid 19 pandemic has caused and may exhibit signs of distress. Parents must be aware of signs of distress and when to intervene or seek help for their children. You should work with your child to identify issues in their lives that require closer looking into. Your child should be able to come and talk to you about anything without fear of repercussions. Work with your child to identify things in their lives that they can control, like what they wear or eat and show them how to spend their free time, talk to them about their day, about their friends, activities in school and how they feel about going to school. Different children respond differently to distress and changing situations depending upon their age, maturity levels, personality and coping skills.
Signs behavior anxiety and stress include
– behavior changes such as moodiness, aggression, short-tempered or cleanliness
– development of a nervous habit like nail-biting, thumb sucking or hair pulling
– difficulty in controlling fears such as a fear of being alone or being in the dark
– getting into trouble at school
-refusal to go to school
-withdrawing from family and friends and preferring to stay alone.
Stress and anxiety can also manifest in physical complaints like
-complain of stomach aches or headaches
– increase or decrease in appetite
Sleep problems like night terrors or sleepwalking.
Here are a few common causes of things that may cause children stress and anxiety-
– Academic pressures-it is more common in children who are afraid of making mistakes or not being good at something
– Big changes in the family such as a new birth, death or parental separation can add to a child’s confusion and lack of security.
– Bullying-it is a serious problem for many children. It can be subtle or obvious and may lead to physical and psychological harm
-Catastrophic events on the news- Images of violent events and disasters can hurt a child’s mental health.
– Parental instability, money and job concern family turmoil and parental agitation can lead to anoverwhelming sense of powerlessness and confusion in children. Children may feel powerless to help with the situation which may increase their increased feelings of inadequacy.
How to help your children to cope and respond to stress healthily?
There are various ways in which you can help your children to understand and defuse the stress they’re feeling.
-When they are at home, create a relaxed environment, and involve the children in household works, talk to them engage them and ask them about their day at school.
-Always encourage them to come to you with doubts and queries and try to answer their questions patiently.
-Try to help them in their academic school work wherever required.
-Encourage them to read good and knowledgeable books and to watch good entertaining ending programs which benefit their knowledge.
– Increase them to talk to you about any problems or issues they may be facing at school or elsewhere and try to help them to find reasonable solutions.
– Provide phrase affection and encouragement for their various achievements.
-Always remember no two children are the same, avoid comparing your child to another child be it a sibling or a classmate and try to focus on their characteristics and qualities.
– Involve your children in social and sports activities where they can learn the spirit of teamwork and how to interact with other children.
– Monitor your child’s screen times and video games.
– younger children should be kept away from negative social media influences
– Older children should be taught about what is wrong and right. A talk should be had about the usage of social media and parents should try to monitor their children’s online activities
– screen time must be limited and kept to a minimum as much as possible.
As we get ready to send our children to school during these uncertain times these are just a few tips and concerns to be kept in mind. And at the end of the day, all we need to remember is that a happy child is a healthy child.