Article by Vahbiz Kerawalla, Student Counselor, Student Wellbeing Centre, Jasudben M. L. School.
Online class stress is real, we need to understand the root cause of how online classes have children as angry and irritable.
First, for years we bombard them by saying ‘the internet is a dark place, nothing good comes out of it, your phone is corrupting your mind,’ and then we encourage them to seek this medium for learning. What a paradox!
Most children, to escape loneliness, sadness, worries, and helplessness, start to spend an increased amount of time surfing through the internet and social media. Amid such circumstances, the parents’ attempt to control their screen time is viewed as infringing their personal space which makes them angry and frustrated.
We were not prepared to begin with online classes
When we have an internal struggle or an inability to cope with the situations we face, we are more likely to lash out, be aggressive, and are going to react instead of respond. That is exactly what children experience.
It is important to understand that when we are not comfortable with change, we resist (both adults and children). We have not spent enough time preparing for the transition to online schooling, especially for the ones who could not afford it and are missing out on their basic right to education.
In online classes, the children find it difficult to wake up on time, be organized for school, and complete classwork. They do not have the excitement of sitting with friends, some even find it difficult to relate to the teachers through a screen. As they are kept busy and overburdened, their motivation and attention towards academics further reduce. They then drift towards the fun side which is just one click away.
The irritation and anger of children are bothering them below their words/actions
We pick up on them being angry, making rude comments, not complying with instructions, ganging up on parents and teachers, finding faults and making remarks towards teachers, not participating in an online school, and we see it as indiscipline or an act of revolt towards us.
It is important to see their behavior as something that is bothering them below the surface of their words/actions. As we failed to create a safe space for them to come and tell us ‘you know I do not like this very much, this is difficult for me’. Being there to hear them and saying okay can we try and make this work is a start.
Children do want to learn, they just do not want to feel that it is forced on them
Avoid smothering children with instructions and let them have an equal say in managing their time when they fight with your head on for autonomy and independence. Help them create a schedule to balance the internet and learning, give them sufficient breaks to avoid dependency on the internet, prioritize sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
‘Children learn more from our actions than our advice.’ We need to be aware this online schooling is affecting all of our mental health. These times are going to make them resilient if they can manage their own emotions, perceptions, and mental health.
Our school has kept its doors open for parents, children, teachers who have reached out to the counseling team from the beginning of lockdown. We have been conducting sessions for all grades in our school to help them at this time.
The need of the hour is to be a sounding board for them to feel accepted and understood for every worry. We have to be careful about our words and actions towards them which could leave an inflicting wound larger than the one caused by the pandemic.
This article appread in Womens Web online portal on 3rd January 2022 https://bit.ly/3mQsE8c