Tuesday, 23 April, 2024

Separation anxiety can be seen in children as schools re-open

Photo obtained from slate.com

Kathmandu, Sept. 25: With the resumption of school after almost one and a half years of online class sessions, Arpan Poudel, aged 12, a Seventh-grader, from Kausaltar, Madhyapurthimi Municipality, ward 2, Bhaktpur is worried about returning to school. He said, “I am used to studying online and spending free time with family members. Now, I am afraid that I will lose all my family time.”

Similarly, Aadya Devkota, aged 10, a fifth-grader, from Nakhudol-5, Bhaisepati, Lalitpur has also shared the same feeling. She is worried about adjusting to her new friends, interacting with teachers and other students, adjusting to new friends groups, and undertaking regular eight-hour school sessions. 

According to Sagun Ballabh Pant, Psychiatrist of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj, there are three types of children, easy-going, easily adjustable, and difficult. Especially, those in the latter groups might face separation anxiety and may face difficulty in adjusting to the school environment.

“Children might have trust issues, anxiety issues, friends behaviour might change, and physical tiredness because of changes in school hours from 3-4 hours of online sessions to eight long school sessions,” said Pant.

He recommended both parents and teachers give day-to-day supervision to children. Asking them about their difficulty, counselling them to navigate through this transition period, and making them feel at home in school by adopting and changing to easy learning methods can make a significant impact in adjustment. Constant awareness on basic health safety standards must be given to children regarding contraction of the virus is of paramount importance, he said while stressing that schools must focus on maintaining health and safety protocols.

“We tend to push children to excel in studies, however, forgetting that each child has their own innate skills and own pace of learning. Therefore, understanding the innate skills and qualities of children and helping children to sharpen their skills to which they are good at might help children enjoy schools,” He said.

Trishna Ghosh Bista, Clinical Psychologist at Mental Hospital Lagankhel, Lalitpur, said that parents must prepare children the week before them going to school rather than dumping long school hours all at once.

"As children are used to having fewer school hours, parents must manage the expectations of children before them reentering schools, and must ask must try to give family time as before which will help them with separation anxiety.” She said, "On the other hand, the teacher must understand that all children are different and need to behave and give support as per their behaviour. Special attention needs to be given to children who are facing difficulties in adjusting and have separation anxiety."