Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Need to support children during COVID-19

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Dr Kim Scott
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With all schools closed due to COVID-19 and students staying home, education experts are encouraging parents and guardians to provide the necessary support to ensure that children feel safe, loved, and supported.

“Families are handling the pressure of the pandemic differently. This isn’t the time where our children need to be keeping up at the highest level of their academics. That is not what they are going to remember. They are going to remember how they felt during this period - if they felt safe, loved, and supported,” stated Dr Kim Scott, director of the Child Resiliency Programme, which is being administered by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA).

“Yes, we would want them to maintain their academic standard, but at the same time, we should be realistic with our expectations, and parents need to take it down a notch,” said Dr Scott.

She made the recommendations while addressing the VPA’s online discussion, ‘Peace in the Pandemic’, recently. The discussion focused on how persons are coping with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as sharing positive initiatives locally that are working throughout the worldwide pandemic with regard to conflict resolution.

Under the theme ‘Coping Mechanisms for Children in COVID-19’, the panel also included Paul Messam, coordinator of the Child Resiliency Programme at the Young Men’s Christian Association, and Sheena Copeland, coordinator at Boys’ Town.

Copeland, who is also a guidance counsellor, said that the academics would come eventually, but the stay-at-home requirements of COVID-19 presented a different scenario for learning. She suggested that while children try to keep up with schoolwork, there should be no stress, and parents should focus on supporting their children emotionally.

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Messam provided tips on how parents can assist children to cope with COVID-19. He said that children should be encouraged to have a ‘Joy Journal’, in which they could record their experiences that brought them joy; listen to uplifting music; play board games; and with their families’ and think positively, which he said would aid their mental state.

“Thinking negative can affect their mental health, which can cause anxiety and depression. We encourage them to get adequate rest in order to cope during this period,” he said.

The other ‘Peace in the Pandemic’ session is scheduled for May 27 at 5 p.m. The topic will include how women and men are coping during the pandemic. Persons are encouraged to log on to the VPA’s Facebook page at vpajamaica to listen to and participate in the discussion.