Child Protection Week: Protecting Children During COVID-19 And Beyond

The government calls on all South Africans to support Child Protection Week by ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are safe.

The government calls on all South Africans to support Child Protection Week by ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are safe.
Children. Picture Courtesy Of IOL

The government calls on all South Africans to support Child Protection Week by ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are safe.

This year we support the Child Protection Week under the theme: “Let us all protect children during COVID-19 and beyond” considering mostly their mental well-being. Times like these build in so much fear and anxiety which increase stress levels in children.

According to the World Economic Forum: “Today, 99%of the world’s children are living under some form of pandemic-related limit on movement; 60% live in countries under full or partial lockdown and 1.5 billion children are out of school.”

Even in exception of the ongoing pandemic, children still face pressures that parents may never even be aware of. This can lead to an increase in depression, anxiety and conduct disorders often linked to what is going on around them.

READ MORE: Ways To Prepare Your Child For Returning To School

One high school educator explained: “Children are feeling stressed from not having had access to all the work, or have anxiety with not having completed the work. The anxiety stemming from Covid-19 affects a child’s ability to learn. School will look very different when the children return, the way they interact with their friends has changed.”

Protect your child’s mental well-being by considering the following four questions:

Is your child feeling overwhelmed? 

Often when children feel overwhelmed, they act out. Some children withdraw, and others become hyperactive. Help your little one navigate these big feelings with care and wisdom.

Is your child getting enough sleep? 

When your child gets enough sleep, they can make better positive decisions and are able to enjoy the day more, not being irritable from a lack of sleep. One consequence of the fallout from Covid-19 is disrupted sleep patterns due to an increase in anxiety. You can help your children relax more by keeping negative news to a minimum and maintain a consistent bedtime routine.

How has your child’s routine changed?

Routine helps your children feel safe and enable them to cope with change. It establishes consistency, boundaries and provides clear expectations that in turn, aids mental well-being.

Routines protect our children emotionally. If your child doesn’t know what to expect, then that unpredictability can cause them to become anxious or even afraid of the unknown. “We’ve seen an increase in depression in teens linked to a lack of structure, often presenting in anger,” a counselling psychologist reflected.

READ MORE: ‘There is violence in the house’: children living under lockdown risk abuse the world over

Is your child feeling heard? 

When your child feels heard, they can regulate their emotions and manage those overwhelming feelings better. Put everything aside and take time to listen to your child, paying attention to their body language.

Mental health is something we have to protect in children if they are to rise in the coming days with strength, compassion, and creativity. Reflect on your childhood, what you needed most from your parents, and provide that to your children.

Good mental health in children not only allows them to develop socially, it also helps them to think clearly, grow in emotional intelligence and learn new skills.

Let us all put a hand in keeping our children safe. As our first black president, Nelson Mandela, once said: “Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation.”

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