With schools across the country delaying the return of students to the classroom, experts are recommending that parents prepare their children with coping strategies to deal with associated stressors. related to the ongoing pandemic that could affect their mental health.
Psychiatrist and parenting author Dr Shimi Kang said the delayed return to face-to-face learning, due to the Omicron variant, left parents and children once again facing a semester. uncertainty, creating tension and anxiety around the impact of distance learning on children’s education, as well as their holistic development.
“This is another stressor in the 20 months of stress, and in addition, beyond the obvious trends is very related to mental health,” Kang said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca. god of children, even before the pandemic. in Monday.
Kang, who has his own practice in Vancouver, said recent school closures or delays in various provinces are continuing to jeopardize children’s mental health, with many students attending school. virtual and rarely participate in extracurricular activities.
Not only is online learning difficult, Kang said, but learning “in the context of relationships” can also be more difficult through a computer screen.
“Schools provide very important social skills and emotions, either directly in the curriculum or indirectly through all of these micro-interactions at recess, at lunch, in the hallways, and that will be missing in terms of online learning,” Kang said.
A recent Canadian study found that children who learned remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, for both primary and secondary school students, said they felt ‘less important’ than their peers. study directly.
The study found that elementary school students who went directly to school said they felt most important, followed by high school students who attended part-time in person and the rest online.
Additionally, other studies have pointed to record-high levels of stress and anxiety among school-age children due to routines and classroom disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A study led by the SickKids hospital in Toronto found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, about 70% of young adults ages 6 to 18 have experienced one or more of the following: depression, anxiety, irritability, poor performance attention or obsessions and compulsions. . For children aged two to five, about 66% reported having at least one of these symptoms.
HELP FOR CHILDREN
Julia Donnelly O’Neill, founder of the Toronto School of Nature, told CTV News Channel on Saturday that children are struggling with their mental health amid the pandemic that is disrupting their lives.
To address this, Donnelly O’Neill says parents need to open up and identify their own pandemic-related anxieties before helping their children manage similar stress.
Donnelly O’Neill says: “It’s really important to always have an open conversation about it in the home so that if something goes wrong the kids feel comfortable bringing it up. friend.
Parents also need to reassure their children when fears and worries arise, she said. Donnelly O’Neill suggests parents remind children that they are there for them and ask for help when they need it.
These tips can be helpful, but Donnelly O’Neill says parents still need to anticipate bumps in the process. She said families need to focus on the present and how to make every moment the best it can be, regardless of whether they are learning remotely or in person.
Donnelly O’Neill said: “Happiness does not come on a sunny day, like what is happening during a pandemic.
While distance learning can be academically and socially challenging for some, Dr Tyler Black, a child and adolescent psychiatrist from the University of British Columbia, says it has the potential Potential to be a positive experience if parents and teachers check in with their students and children more often about how they are responding to the pandemic.
“I hope that schools can take their distance learning goals a little more seriously and stop trying to just provide content,” Black said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca on Monday. use live classes over the internet”. “It would be so much better to use that time for social networking.”
Black says school time is when children meet their friends, and it’s important for teachers to set aside time to socialize with distance learning.
As for parents, Black said families need to be open to the ever-changing school situation and regularly check in with their children to see how they’re coping. He added that parents should also take it a step further by asking their children what they can do to help.
“Ask ‘What can I do to help you? What can I do to make it easier for you?’ As opposed to parents coming up with a bunch of solutions that they then apply to their children,” he explains.
Despite previous difficulties with online learning during the pandemic, Kang said she hopes that this time it will be different for parents, teachers and children.
“If we do [online learning] she said.