In our country, where online education has continued for a long time during the pandemic process, the transition to face-to-face education will begin in schools in certain age groups as of September. Istanbul Okan University Hospital Psychology Specialist Kln. Ps. Müge Leblebicioğlu Arslan made statements about the psychosocial adjustment process for both adults and children.
“School phobia may occur in children growing up in a sensitive environment during the pandemic”
It can be said that school-age children are the group most affected psychosocially during the pandemic, where even adults have difficulty in adapting in the process. Therefore, it can be thought that children who start school during the pandemic may experience some problems in compliance with the pandemic and its rules, as well as their adaptation to school. Considering that the pandemic process is an adaptation process in itself for both adults and children, this situation brings to mind the questions of 'how the children who start school during the pandemic period can get through the school adaptation process more easily and what can be done'.
“It will be difficult for children to adapt to school”
It can be said that almost every child who starts school goes through an adaptation process. When this situation is matched with the pandemic process, it can make it difficult for children to adapt to school. Depending on this adaptation process, some psychological symptoms can be seen in children. In this process, parents should support the child's adaptation to school. However, not only the attitudes of the parents one week before the school starts, but also what kind of parental attitude the child is exposed to during the pandemic process plays a decisive role in how he or she will get through the school adaptation process.
Notes to Parents:
Do you protect your children from being infected with the virus, as well as from being infected by negative emotions such as 'anxiety, worry'?
Parental feelings are directly transmitted to the child. Therefore, parents who experience negative feelings such as intense anxiety and worry about health, being healthy and not catching the virus during the pandemic, while trying to protect their children by displaying overprotective attitudes such as 'not taking the child out, isolating the child, and hypersensitivity to illness and illness', actually lead to the psychosocial development of children in the long run. they may overlook the negative consequences that may result. Therefore, when children who grow up in an overprotective, dependent and sensitive environment, spending their days with people they do not know in a foreign environment when they start school, it can create peace in children and cause difficulties in adaptation to school and even cause school phobia.
Parents must first obtain correct information about the pandemic and the rules to be followed. In addition, it is very important to inform the child practically about the use of masks, social distance and hygiene and to set an example.
Uncertainty causes anxiety in children. Inform your child in plain language beforehand about what awaits him at school, such as what time he will go to school, what is done at school, when they will eat there, when they will play games and study from time to time.
Before your child starts school, give him a tour of the school. Introduce them to their teachers, show your child where the sections in the school such as toilets and canteens are. This attitude will make the child, whose abstract thinking is not as developed as adults, feel comfortable and safe by embodying what school is like and what is expected of him.
When the emotional messages that the child starts to feel such as anxiety and fear are not read correctly by the parents, it can lead to psychosomatic symptoms such as headache, stomachache and nausea in the child. Therefore, understanding and responding to what your child feels and needs plays a very important role in the child's well-being.
Especially parents should encourage the child's emotional expression in this process. They can do this through games, pictures or books. In this process, the parent's sharing their feelings about starting school with their child, hearing that even the mother and father, who are the symbols of power in the child's mind, can experience similar feelings can comfort the child and make him feel safe.
Parents should avoid positive or negative exaggerated expressions in communication and emotion sharing with the child. E.g; Exaggerated positive statements of the parent such as 'Everything will be fine at school, you will have fun, everyone will love you' may not match the child's real life and may undermine the sense of trust towards the parent. Or statements such as 'don't take off your mask or you'll get sick, we'll all be sick and then you'll be alone' may cause the child's anxiety to increase even more.
Especially, children who have been exposed to the loss of a relative during the pandemic process may experience intense separation anxiety during the school process. Therefore, knowing that you will pick him up on time after school, where to wait for him, where to get on the bus and even who will greet him at home when he goes home will help the child to cope with anxiety more easily by making him feel comfortable and safe.
Don't make the goodbye agitating and keep it short. When the child is worried or has a negative emotion, he or she observes the parent, and if the same emotion accompanies the parent, he will confirm in his mind that his own fears are in place. This may make it difficult for the child to adapt to school.
It is very important that your child, who is accustomed to the online system, has to reorganize the meal, sleep and play hours according to the new order.
Going to school is the child's responsibility. Therefore, in order for the child to develop this perception, the parents say, 'If you go to school, I will buy ice cream.' They should avoid using the reward-punishment system by staying away from such discourses. Otherwise, the child may use school attendance or non-attendance as a reward or punishment to the parent.
Finally, starting school requires a physical, mental, emotional and social readiness. This readiness may differ for each child. For example, while some children have school maturity at the age of 5, there are also children who reach this maturity at the age of 7. Children who have not reached school maturity may experience adjustment problems when they start school. Therefore, it is very important to evaluate the psychosocial development of the child by a psychologist who is an expert in the field before starting school and to develop his/her skills by working in cooperation with the parents. Similarly, after starting school, the child's bio-psycho-social development should be observed by parents and teachers.