Updated: Aug 2, 2022
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), more commonly known as COVID-19 has created havoc worldwide. It has been more than a year since its first case was reported and it is still spreading with an elevated mortality rate. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. On the initial guidelines issued by WHO, 188 countries imposed either partial or full countrywide lockdowns to mitigate the effect of the dreadful virus. According to the data collated from websitestatsita.com, around 3200 million people from 13 countries were confined to their homes during the lockdowns. UNICEF data suggests that a whopping 1.6 billion school-going children of various age groups were impacted due to countrywide school closures. In a haphazard manner, governments across the world announced an immediate switch from a physical learning environment to a virtual learning mode. At least 31% of school-going children worldwide cannot be reached by digital or broadcast remote learning programs. Apart from the loss of academic progress, children being vulnerable to stress and tensions, faced drastic changes in their lifestyles that have affected their social-emotional well-being.
Social & emotional learning
Weissberg & Cascarino (2013) define Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) as a series of processes through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) discusses 5 sets of cognitive, affective and behavioral competencies which form the heart of SEL.
Self-Awareness - The ability to accurately recognize one's emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior.
Self-Management - The ability to regulate one's emotions, thoughts and behaviors effectively in different situations.
Social-Awareness - The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Relationship skills - The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups.
Responsible decision-making - The ability to make constructive and respectful choices.
As it is often observed that self-aware, sensitive, and emotionally mature children can manage stress, anxiety, and relationships with friends and family effectively.
Factors affecting the social and emotional well being
The aforementioned thoughts accentuate the significance of SEL in children's lives. Even short disruptions in a child’s schooling can have negative effects due to a lack of a structured approach. This sudden closure of schools and confinement to limited physical spaces have severely affected children's welfare. The medium they used in leisure and as a getaway from their academic pursuits has suddenly become their medium of learning and are forced to follow a rigid schedule. All these create a whirlpool in which the children get entwined. We can help our children by introducing coping strategies which help them to sail through troubled waters. Some of the simple coping strategies include:
Reading - Invest in books for your child and set living examples by indulging in reading. Reading will open up a wonderful world to your child and help him/her to drown their anxious feelings. As they say, books are man's best friend!
Breathing exercises & Yoga - Gift your family dedicated time for physical exercises. Long hours of sitting and mundane routine slows down the metabolism, which might contribute to weakness and general tiredness in little ones.
(image source: Powerful synergy; Mindful schools)
Pursuing a hobby – Develop and pursue a hobby especially a soft skill like art/ music/dance. Indulgence in hobbies is known to prove stress busters.
Label the feeling – Help your young ones to identify and write the feelings they are going through. This will help two folds, will improve their writing skills, and also help them to acknowledge their feelings.
Besides, we as parents should utilize this time in building healthy relations and innovatively creating activities that would engage them with the elders of the family. This is the time to make them feel that they are being loved and cared for. This would help children understand the importance of the family unit and relationships.
By: Harit Bagga (Academician, Content creator, and Researcher)
Disclaimer: Kindly note that the above blog has been submitted by members in their individual capacity.