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Govt issues advisory for children, caregivers to deal with changes due to COVID-19

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Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday issued a detailed parenting advisory to enable children and caregivers to cope with the sudden disruption in their lives in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown.

The advisory, put out by the Social Welfare department, stated that the sudden disruption in the daily routine while limiting social interaction can adversely impact one’s mental health. The effect could be equally felt by children and adolescents too.

“It is necessary to stay vigilant and tread cautiously while dealing with children under these circumstances,” it stated.

It further pointed out that children should stay close to their parents and family, as far as possible. If a child needs to be separated from their primary caregiver due to suspected illness of child or the caregiver, it must be ensured that appropriate alternative care is provided and a social worker or another caregiver should regularly follow up on the child.

“During periods of unavoidable separation, regular contact with parents and caregivers should be maintained, such as twice-daily scheduled phone or video calls or other age-appropriate communication (social media depending on the age of the child). It is important to stay positive as well as honest while communicating with children. Parents and caregivers can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared. Following are some steps suggested for parents and caregivers in this regard,” it stated.

As part of the advisory, it stated that children may need extra attention from their parents and may want to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions. It is important that they know they have someone who will listen to them.

“Tell them you love them and give them plenty of affection. Make it a point to talk with your child or teen”, it said.

Do answer the questions that they pose and share facts in a way that your child or teen can understand, the advisory pointed out. “You can explain facts to younger children in a child friendly manner through comic strips which will help reduce anxiety. Focus on helping your child feel safe but be truthful. If your child asks about something and you don’t know the answer, say so. The parent and caregivers should stay updated about facts,” it said.

Try to gently figure out what the child already knows and what are their fears and ask questions geared to the child’s age level, it stated.

“This gives you a chance to learn how much kids know and to find out if they’re hearing wrong information. Listening patiently will also help them vent their stress and emotions”, it said.

The advisory asked parents to follow their child’s lead as some children may want to spend time talking. “If the child does not seem interested or does not ask a lot of questions, do not insist. However, gently tell the child that you would be available in case they wish to discuss the issue. Be patient. Children and youth do not always readily talk about their concerns. Watch for clues that they may want to talk about, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work. It is very typical for younger children to ask a few questions, return to playing, then come back to ask more questions,” it said.

“Remain calm and reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you,” it said.

“Avoid blaming anyone for the situation. It is important to avoid stereotyping any one group of people. Instead, explain the facts to the children in a scientific manner. State the truth honestly but refrain from exaggeration,” it said.

Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of specific events, including on social media, the advisory further stated.

  • Make yourself available;

  • Make it a point to talk with your child or teen;

  • Figure out gently what the child already knows and what are his/her fears;

  • Follow your child’s lead;

  • Remain calm and reassure your child or teen that they are safe;

  • Avoid blaming anyone for the situation;

  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of specific event, including social media;

  • Put news stories in context;

  • Try to maintain regular routines;

  • Discuss their role and contribution in staying safe;

  • Talk about all the things that are happening to keep people safe and healthy;

  • Socialize through social media;

  • Let your child know that it’s normal to feel stressed out at times.


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