Local Educational Psychologist Dr Thomas Alexander said the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) coupled with extensive media coverage on the topic and parents becoming unemployed can all harm a child’s learning abilities and lead to behavioural changes.
He said parents should, therefore, be mindful of how they communicate their feelings, thoughts and behaviour around children.
“I think there is a relationship between emotion and learning. If you think of children right now, I suspect that there are many of our children who are worried at this time because of what they are hearing from parents, caregivers, and even the media,” Dr Alexander said while speaking during an online forum on Tuesday.
He said these messages can be fed indirectly to a child while a parent is having a conversation with another person, or while watching international news about the death toll associated with the disease.
“The child is sitting, the child is hearing, so the child becomes worried, concerned just as the parent is. Once the child starts getting worried, the child is going to focus on whatever it is of concern to them. So you think about learning and school, once that has begun to happen, then the child is not able to focus, their memory is impacted, and all those little things that we need for the child to learn is impacted because of that particular way the child feels at the time,” he explained.
Clinginess, reversion to bed-wetting
Dr Alexander said sometimes children can then exhibit various signs such as becoming clingier, they might reverse to behaviours like bed-wetting, or becoming irritable or stubborn.
Meanwhile, Early Childhood Education Officer Genevieve McMaster said with everything that is going on it, is very easy to lose sight of the youngsters, especially with mindsets that ‘children should be seen and not heard’.
“So it is easy for us to push them aside, just give them a toy and let them play in a corner. But we want to draw attention back to the fact that these are the years that they are forming who they are going to be, not just now but who they are going to be throughout life. The development doesn’t stop because of everything that is going on,” she stated.
Children are observing
McMaster said at a when schools are closed and homeschooling is the new order, children are observing parents and how they manage what is happening around them.
McMaster also made it clear that a parents’ behaviour is not the only determining factor, but it was a strong contributor.
“What I don’t want people to think is that we are looking for scapegoats to say it’s just the parents, and we are blaming the parents because that’s not what we are trying to do,” she explained.
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