It was during the virtual PTM for my elder son few days back that her teacher asked if I was keeping a track of his notes being up to date in the notebook, if he is following the schedule and the tutorial videos have been seen and revised at his end for better understanding of the concepts. I had no clue of what she was talking about as I was not following his progress for the last couple of weeks. It made me feel bad to be honest. After the meeting, my son did try to comfort me by saying that he was very much on track. His assuring words did make me feel better.
While pondering about this episode later during the day, a thought triggered in my mind. We have been talking about organizational resilience and individual resilience during the pandemic all along for adults. However, the kids are also going through anxiety related to Covid-19. The silver lining is that to some extent kids have been adapting to the challenges better than adults.
Writing in the New York Times, psychology professor Adam Grant describes the COVID state of mind as languishing: “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you are muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”
Last couple of weeks have been difficult as we have been going through concern for the recovery of near and dear ones, mourning the loss of loved ones, coupled with the fear and anxiety of what lies ahead for everyone. While I have been languishing, unknowingly, there was also an unfair expectation on my part from my children to act normal, complete their assignments on time, prepare for the weekly assessments and get good grades too. My sister and her husband had both tested positive for Covid 19 last month. Her fever would not go down ever on the tenth day coupled with low oxygen levels. While we were concerned, discussing and praying about her recovery how could it not affect my children who were also at home. When children are frequently being exposed to messages about the threat to health, fear and anxiety is a normal and common response.
Few days back my younger son asked, “When are me and my elder brother getting the Covid 19 vaccine shot”. Realizing that it was his way of expressing anxiety, we promptly comforted him by saying that vaccination is not needed for the kids. Kids have their own ways of expressing their fear and anxieties, catch the signs.
I believe it is okay to be sometimes vulnerable in front of the kids. We all are humans after all. Thankfully, my boys are at an age that they do understand when their mother has her bad days, moments when fear and insecurities grip her. There have been times my kids have helped me come out of those moments.
We as parents need to make a mindful attempt and have a positive approach to ensure that the anxiety and uncertainty does not affect our kids too much. Sharing a few ways to ensure this below:
· Encourage positive thinking. For instance, few days back, I asked my kids to write about “what keeps them going” these days. It was reassuring to see what my boys (10 and 12 years old) expressed by way of their artwork and write-ups about gratitude, being with family, new skills developed during the lock-down. It gave us the much-needed strength and positivity.
· Accept that the kids are smart and know what is going on to an extent. Downplaying will not help especially when we keep emphasizing about the seriousness of Covid 19. So, try to have open and honest conversations with the kids.
· It is okay to be vulnerable in front of the kids. You may not know all the answers and let the kids accept that.
· Listening to kids’ questions and discussing their concerns could mitigate the potential negative effect on their minds.
· Try to have a routine which kids follow as much as possible. Since they are home bound keep a balance between screen time, helping in household chores, pursuing their hobbies and free time. When I say free time, it literally means that my kids do not want to do anything during that time.
· Regular video calls with friends and family help meet the human need to connect.
· Kids feel responsible and important if they are made to contribute to the age-appropriate home tasks.
No one had expected the second Covid wave to be of this magnitude. We just need to be mindful of the fact that if the present situation is hard for us, it is not easy for our kids as well.
As a parent of two kids, I believe all kids need specially during the pandemic is parents who are their friends, an open conversation and an environment that encourages them to keep on going during the turbulent times we all are in.
And mind you, it is easier said than done!