Episode 18 – Mental Health during Lockdown Pt. 2

This is the final half of the two part series on Mental Health. Last week we were in conversation with Mrs. Swati Deepak who is a counsellor and psychotherapist and specialises in parenting. And this week we have a psychologist Mrs. Shobhika Jaju who specialises in children.

It’s nice to hear from someone who is not from Mumbai and of all the places that Shobhika Jaju, a practicing psychologist and mom to a two year old, could be from, it is Goa – the land of sun, sand and sea. She claims that Goa is the best place to be for your mental health, and it is in a much better position compared to the rest of India in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With respect with children, across age groups, are imitating the emotions and the coping pattern which parents are displaying at home. Working parents are spending a lot of time indoors now and the kids are not used to this new situation.

Everybody has a rhythm to life, including children and this whole coronavirus country-wide lockdown has evidently upset this rhythm and their little world has changed completely. And this is one of the major reasons why we are noticing mental health issues. Especially children, they are showing signs of anxiety, stress related symptoms and manifestations of those.

What was surprising to learn was that the above is not related to boredom only. It is high yes but that is secondary concern. The primary one is anxiety and that stems from change in routine and not having a choice to do things like – going down to play, playing with friends, school, socializing, etc. The freedom of choice is taken away from them.

There are clear signs of anxiety in children that we will notice – anger, irritability, argumentative, fight back, sleep difficulties, frequent crying, some form of self-harm, they might turn inwards sometimes, eating disorders, withdrawing from people and other connections.

As parents we need to be careful what sort of information we are exposing our children to, even if it’s simple and basic threats like “if you are naughty the cops will take you away”. In a situation like this it gets accentuated and the results will be somewhat unexpected. In case of my daughter, she refuses to go down because of the fear that cops will throw her in jail. Children are very receptive to information irrespective of the source.

As always, we also spoke about screen time and Shobhika said something very interesting, children now know that mobile phones are an integral part of our lives. We carry that device around no matter where we are, children know which phone belongs to whom. It is obvious that they will automatically demand because that is what they see around them. Professionally, she advices parents that a little of screen time is okay, because it is proving them some form of comfort. So randomly taking away the screen will be perceived as a threat.

The word that we have overused during this period is definitely “NO”. It’s already a part of our vocabulary as a parent but it has just been abused now.

Another thought-provoking episode on understanding your child’s mind during this tough period. Have a go at this episode and learn a little about a child’s psychology. Peter Pop and Nadir Pop , are going through our own new set of normalcies in terms of our respective kids.

If you want to know more about what Shobhika and her team does, visit Silver Linings

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