Parenting challenges in the times of pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as a major challenge for parents, who are struggling to help their children adapt to the “new normal”.Updated: Aug 01, 2020 11:40 IST
Nidhi Jaiswal, a resident of west Delhi’s Paschim Vihar, got worried when her six-year-old son, who has been confined to home since March, started throwing (sometimes violent) tantrums every time she refused to take him to the neighbourhood park. Unable to deal with the situation, last month, the 31-year-old software professional ordered a few parenting books online but they did not help. She then started following several mommy blogs and social media accounts dedicated to parenting.
“I wanted practical advice from moms with children as old as mine,” says Jaiswal. “How can you possibly explain social distancing to a six-year-old?”
She is not the only one faced with the tricky question. The Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as a major challenge for parents, who are struggling to help their children adapt to the “new normal”. During the initial phases of lockdown, which continued from late March till late May, parents suddenly found themselves locked in their houses with children. Continued school closure, work-from-home protocols and social distancing norms turned homes into classrooms and playgrounds, and parents into teachers and playmates. Several parents, unable to juggle multiple roles, are turning to parenting experts and bloggers for counsel.
Deepali Soam, who runs My Teeny Tot, an online parenting advice platform, is getting messages from parents struggling to figure out how to keep their children busy and deal with their mood swings. “Earlier, most queries used to be about children’s food and sleep patterns, but now most parents want to know how to keep them gainfully engaged. Children have a lot of energy, and with little to no interaction with their friends or outdoor activities, many tend to become edgy,” says Soam, who has a five-year-old son and a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. “I recommend preparing a schedule for children, dividing different activities throughout the day,” says Soam.
Soam, a former school teacher, has over 52,000 followers on Instagram. She gained about 12,000 of them in the last four months.
The challenge to keep children engaged, healthy and safe has been recognised by various international organisations. The United Nations Children’s Fund has also released a series of parenting tips. The agency recommends talking to children about the disease, setting aside one-on-one time with a child, doing activities together, playing, and ensuring children are safe from online risks.
Vidhi Hatwal, a homemaker who lives in Noida, says, “One of my biggest worries is that my eight-year-old is becoming addicted to the iPad. Attending classes, watching movies and video calling friends might affect her eyes and personality.” Hatwal often turns to online platforms for parenting advice.
Nora Bali, who offers parenting advice to over 10,000 followers on Instagram,says, “Since there has been a massive increase in the use of laptops and iPads, parents must monitor the content their children are exposed to. I ask parents to introduce digital detoxes,” says Bali, the mother of an eight-year-old.
The pandemic poses a challenge to the mental well-being as well as healthy physical development of children. According to the World Obesity Federation, the pandemic makes obesity prevention more challenging due to increased sedentary time and reduced physical activity.
“Children often lack the power to articulate what they are feeling. Since these are uncertain times, my four-year-old often turns to food when he is upset,” says Saru Mukherjee of Gurugram. Mukherjee has over 68,000 followers on Instagram (about 8,000 of them followed her during the lockdown). “I tell parents to involve kids in small household chores to give them some diversion and participation in physical activity.”
Soam says the crisis has its positive sides too. “It has allowed children to spend more quality time with their family. It has helped many parents understand them better,” she says.