24 sata: “Let the children know that their feelings are okay, that their parents are there for them and that they will be supported”

“Apart from the measures and rules that children should follow, which is certainly desirable for parents to repeat with their children, it is important to ask the child how he feels,” said the director of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, professor Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, in an article published at 24 sata on May 10th, 2020, entitled “Draw a child how far the virus can ‘jump’ and spread”. Journalist Stela Tuđa talked to the director about aspects of the mental health of children, parents and teachers during the corona crisis. We publish the text in full:

“Ask the child what worries him, if he has any questions, let him know that his feelings are fine, that his parents are there for him and that he will be supported” she added.

She points out that the emphasis should be on the mental health and adjustment of children, while maintaining the health of themselves and others, currently more than on achievements.

– It is also important to praise the child for adopting and adhering to certain measures, both at home and outside and at school, because children behave great, above the expectations of many of us are responsible and willing to put their lives ‘on hold’, and for them it is from a number reasons are harder than for us adults – said psychologist Buljan Flander.

Adults can help with adjustment, primarily by setting a positive example.

– You try to repeat the rules to the children, especially the younger ones, as often and clearly as possible, to praise them for following the rules, introducing play and fun into the whole story and the like – she said. However, some children who are vulnerable (eg. Have a previous traumatic experience, the unsettled conditions in the family, etc.) can be still difficult to go through customization.

– We must not forget that this is just one of a series of adjustments required of children over the past few months. Some children need if professional support in this, as well as their parents, many of whom are on the brink of its capacity, so I encourage all your readers that do not hesitate to ask for help. There is nothing wrong or embarrassing about that, in fact it shows a model of parental care and responsibility – she says.

We asked her how to explain to the children that they should keep their distance.

– The smaller the child, the less he can remember and stick to the rules at the same time. Also, in order to understand them, the smaller the child, the more concrete examples are needed. This is, for example, drawing a virus, showing how far a virus can ‘jump’ from one person to another, and the like. Children and young people are almost certainly on rules such as distance something they know, heard the adults, news, talk with peers … We can ask them to explain what they know and explain in your own words, to see to what should be given more attention – explained professor Buljan Flander.

She adds that parents can help their children so that they should first of all take care of themselves and their mental health because the current level of parental stress is very high in most families.

– Furthermore, they should take care of the mental health of their children and nurture a relationship of trust and security with children, above all. Of course, the protection of somatic health and safety is of great importance, but some other things that are otherwise important, such as a particular assessment, now have less weight – she points out.

Teachers, she says, are probably the most significant adult models and influences on children after parents and close family members.

– Everything that applies to parents and the relationship with children can be transferred to teachers, who are currently in a very demanding situation. Some responsibilities and requirements that are on the backs of teachers are too difficult and I hear from colleagues that they are very worried about how they will be respected, who will be guilty or responsible if despite their efforts some measures are violated by children – says the psychologist. Similar concerns plague parents who have had to make their own decisions about whether to send their child to school or not.

– Let’s not forget that the crisis situation continues, so I would tell teachers, but also all those who talk and decide about teachers, to give their best in protecting children’s health on how to bring the rules closer to children and the like, colleagues certainly know a lot, and to focus on their own mental health and on their relationship with children as a priority, which will mean a lot more to them in these circumstances than any lesson – she said.

She adds that she has heard from parents that children who will stay at home ask why they cannot go to school with friends, and children who will go to school ask why they cannot stay at home with their parents.

– Both can be confused, lonely and sad, feel injustice and anger. Of course, the conditions for the adoption and examination of the material online and live cannot be identical, and this will lead to additional problems. As much as we talk about children having the same opportunities and possibilities, it seems to me that this is not the case now. Let’s just look at how parents and teachers feel, of course children feel similarly, who have far fewer opportunities to cope than we adults. Each child will be helped by a warm and gentle parental approach, space to express their emotions and an example of how to get as much out of some bad circumstances as we can. Still, I believe that if many people need professional support, both because of the corona and the earthquake in Zagreb, but also because the current highly unpredictable, uneven and confusing instructions – concludes professor Buljan Flander. “


Source: 24 hours: https://www.24sata.hr/lifestyle/djetetu-nacrtajte-kako-daleko-virus-moze-skakati-i-siriti-se-692209

Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.   

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