Empathetic Counselling Can Help Children Deal Better With Pandemic Anxiety, Says Expert

Students weighed down by stress can be helped to transition to offline schooling with requisite emotional and psychological support
After being away from brick and mortar classrooms, and studying online for nearly two years, a large number of children are now battling acute ‘back to school’ anxiety.

Just as they were getting used to a massive disruption in their regular routine, it is time for them to go back to the real world, albeit with COVID-19 protocols in place.

While some students may actually transition more easily than others, a few may struggle with feelings of stress, nervousness, unease or even fear.

Rajesh Bhatia, educationist and founder of TreeHouse says, “Even in ordinary times, students dealt with anxiety over exams and peer pressure and the pandemic has exacerbated these issues and added the stress about physical well-being and safety protocols in the mix. Children and parents need help to deal with these complicated emotions and at TreeHouse, we are offering free counselling sessions to ease the transition from home to classrooms.”

Bhatia says, the constant anxiety over acclimatising oneself to masks and social distancing protocols while learning can also stress students and that is why it is important that their fears are addressed before and after they step in a classroom.

Regular hand-washing sessions, a structured and reassuring approach towards safety protocols, one-on-one and group conversations with children and parents will all alleviate stress, he says and adds, “During online classes, we added music and dance to normalise a new way of learning and we will do the same now to ease kids back to the old, slightly altered reality.”

Bhatia says, the pandemic has shown that learning can unfold in all spaces and even now not all children need to jump headlong into the classroom environment. He adds, “Classroom learning in many places is still optional and can remain so till everyone feels safe and confident enough to venture out again. We must make space for the mental health of children because only when they feel happy and safe, can they learn well. Guidance and empathetic counselling must become an integral part of learning environments to support the social, psychological and emotional needs of students.

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