How to keep kids safe from psychological impact of pandemic?

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Rita Lamsal

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: Parents of a seven-year-old girl took her to Kanti Children Hospital after she developed some psychological problems during the lockdown last year.

During the time of the lockdown, she had formed a habit of frequently washing her hands at a nearby water tap, but the problem was that she started talking to her about the need to wash her hands with soap and water to prevent from contracting the virus. Moreover, she even started telling her parents to wash their hands at a regular interval.

Initially, daughter’s awareness about hand hygiene during the pandemic elated the parents. But, very soon they realized that it had become an obsession of their daughter. She started washing her hands in every few minutes.

Days passed, and her habit also changed but for worse – she now started showing the sign of fear and worry. She started expressing her fear in front of the parents saying that everybody would be infected sooner or later. At this point, her parents decided to seek medical help and took her to the hospital.

Dr Utkarsh Karki at Child and Adolescent Psychological Unit of the hospital examined the girl and prescribed some medicines.

According to him, panicking, fear and repeating the same words was due to the child’s fear for infection.

When NL Today approached Dr Karki, he said that psychological problems such as fear, terror, panicking, and anxiety among children had increased ever since the outbreak of coronavirus.

Dr. Karki views that children have become the victims of psychological problems due to a lack of proper counseling and misinformation.

Dr Karki views that children have become the victims of psychological problems due to a lack of proper counseling .

He says, “Children should only be given age-appropriate information about the problems be it about the pandemic. Otherwise, there is a high chance child developing severe form of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.

In the view of the recent surge in the cases of coronavirus, the government has once again decided to close the schools. If the children are left unattended by the guardians at home, many more children are likely to be affected by the psychological problems that the infection itself, according to Karki.

Talking about the increasing cases of psychological disorder in children, Dr Karki pointed out that the excessive use of mobile phones and other gadgets during the lockdown has also contributed to a large extent.

To ensure the good physical and mental health of the children, Dr Karki suggested that parents should ensure whether or not their children are getting enough sleep and parents should also help in socialization process of the children in whatever way possible during the lockdown period.

“They need to be physically active even inside house, lack of physical activity hampers the overall development of the children,” Dr Karki added.

He advised the parents to make daily routine for children to keep themselves busy during the day time to help children get rid of negative thoughts and unnecessary fear.

According to Karki, the most crucial thing the parents can do to reduce the impact of physiological fear of the pandemic on children is to spend good amount of time with children.