A school has started a helpline for parents to “cope with the difficult circumstances” and manage their children, many of whom have become unruly and defiant after being cooped up indoors for days.
Parents are not used to being with their children 24X7 and they have been like that for three months at a stretch. It is showing on their relationship, the South City International School has felt.
In many homes, arguments with teens have gone up; children are answering back and maybe even banging doors. “Adolescents are under non-stop supervision and they are missing the time in school, which includes the time spent on the bus, in between classes, during lunch breaks,” John Bagul, the school principal, said.
“These are little breaks of normalcy and now that all of it has been taken away… and they are under parental supervision throughout the day… adding to the stress. The situation is like that of a stretched rubber band with parents on one side and children on the other.”
The school launched the helpline last week. Its four counsellors will be available to talk to parents, hear them out and also provide them with solutions to deal with the situation at home. “It is a small step that the school has taken to reach out,” Bagul said. The uncertainty regarding the future has added to the anxiety in many homes and the issues are getting compounded. The idea is to let the steam out and be able to talk about problems without being “judged”.
The situation is difficult for parents, too, Gautam Majumdar, one of the counsellors, said. “They have no outlet or time for themselves. They are stuck between the chores at home, the laptop and the children. Before the lockdown, together with responsibilities and office work they had time to relax and go out with friends… that is not happening now.”
Psychiatrist Jai Ranjan Ram appreciated the effort. The initiative will help “share the parents’ burden”, he said. “Boredom is setting in and students are getting irritable and defiant. The patience level is also low… it is becoming tiring for parents and the physical exhaustion is telling on them. Besides, they have to be truthful about their own anxiety and they have to be prepared for a long haul because they don’t know how long this situation will continue.”
Ram said parents were running out of ideas on how to keep children occupied and schools could pitch in. “They need to add variety to the daily routine… some sort of co-curricular activities besides academics or competition will keep children gainfully engaged. Schools can collaborate and collectively organise events by initiating interaction with scientists or experts from foreign universities.”