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We Need To Re-Imagine The Parent-Child Relationship In The Pandemic

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

Ramesh’s son is six years old; he lives with his parents in a flat in Delhi. His father is in a private job and his mother is a housewife. He studies in a government school in Delhi. But after one year of his admission, his school has closed due to the pandemic. Since then, he has never been to school and never gone outside his house. Now due to psychological pressure, he lost his interest to study anything inside the home.

Representational Image

A child’s ability to learn and engage with a topic is severely restricted in online education.

 

His father said he has forgotten everything that he learned in one year of school. Almost a similar situation is in most families because of the virus outbreak. In this situation, most children are not just getting alienated but also lose their interest in learning and doing anything. Many reports reveal that most children, due to the coronavirus outbreak, are facing many problems. Their movement and interaction with other children outside of their home have been strictly restricted.

They are not able to go outside their home and are not able to do anything that they want. Not just government schools but private schools too have been closed, although many private and government schools are providing some learning materials and online classes for their student. But it is not enough; they need more things including entertainment and free space inside their home so that they could survive freely in a limited periphery.

How Is The Coronavirus Affecting Your Child?

The second wave of coronavirus in India has created a panic situation in Indian society, especially in Delhi, this virus outbreak has infected a large population, and thousands of people have died till now. Due to fear of the second wave virus outbreak, most parents have strictly restricted the movement of their child, they cannot move anywhere outside of their home. They cannot even meet with their friends and cannot play with neighborhood children.

Most of the children’s parks are empty nowadays, not just government but also parents have strictly restricted visits there with children. Inside the home, due to the kind of social values and ethics that does not allow a mutual relation between child and parent, most children are not able to share their emotional feelings with their parents or elder siblings. They don’t feel free and safe to do anything inside their home. All the time, children are feeling loneliness and the pressure of different irrational ethics and social values.

All these ethics and values often strictly restrict their behavior and psychologically affect their thinking and perception too. Besides, during this period, pressure to attend online classes from both parents and teachers is another tyrannical condition that suppresses their movement and activities in the home. This condition also affects children’s minds and thinking closely leading to parent’s rude behavior with their children.  The system of online class, which is technologically more controlled, leads to a different kind of psychological distress among the children on the one hand and leads to an individualistic notion among them on the other hand.

 How Do You Engage With Your Child?

Virus outbreak in India has redefined not just our social life but also brought out a significant change in our relationships and social values. Among children, this has created a frustrating and more disturbing situation and it is silently affecting children’s minds and behavior. For this reason, it is an urgent need that parents should handle this entire situation scientifically without fear of virus infection.

A scientific way of life during this pandemic will help every family member to develop the notion of fearlessness. It also leads the children to be psychologically more comfortable in their movement and activities inside the home.

Preparing A Plan

During this virus outbreak, parents should prepare a plan so that they can engage consciously with their children. It should be scientifically organized and more engaging for children focussing on entertainment and creativity. In this plan, different types of activities including social and cultural ones should be included as it collectively ensures the participation of each family member. Social and cultural activities such as games, dance, and singing develop not just confidence but also the notion of fearlessness among the family members and children.

happy family
Representational Image

Frequent activities when the entire family comes together will really help the child.

These activities should happen every day at a different time so that children can prepare themselves for this. This strategy, in other words, will make children as well as family members more confident and also psychologically more comfortable in doing anything inside the home.  Besides, inclusions of different types of cultural activities such as painting, dance, and singing that ensure equal participation of each family member create a notion of creativity among the family member and children.

Especially, cultural activities, during the pandemic, influence children at two levels. First, it would be psychologically engaging and more effective to develop a scientific notion among children. Second, it would develop an interest in creative things among your children and also lead children toward learning.

Limit The Use Of News Channels And Social Media

Social media and news channels have been the main sources of fear and misinformation globally during the virus outbreak. It has deeply affected human life. It has also brought out significant changes to children’s behavior. We have witnessed, during the pandemic, most news channels and social media have spread misinformation and fake news very fast. Showing different types of disturbing news stories has created unnecessary fear and panic across society.

This has disturbed everyone including children psychologically and emotionally. Therefore, a family member should use news channels and social media just to get factual information and updates on this virus outbreak. Some programs, documentary, and films which have been available on different social media sites may be used collectively so that each family member along with children could participate to learn from them. Children will develop more interest in learning through this activity.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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