With the e-education system being extended in the UAE until the end of June as a precautionary measure, it’s now more important than ever that all community members from students, academicians, parents and employers need to continue adapting and enhancing these changes in a world which will be increasing digital at least in the foreseeable future.
Better Health spoke to Dr Khawla Ahmed Al Mir, Consultant Psychiatrist at Rashid Hospital, on some tips to ensure we make the most of this transition. “The first thing I would say is that we all should have gratitude at this time. The community spirit and teamwork that we are seeing globally reinforces the resilience and togetherness that people have. My advice is to try and make the most positive impact that this period has on your yourself and your family as a unit. However, in order to have reduced pressure moments and to be able to cope with extra responsibilities that parents may face during this demanding time, there are some key strategies that can help.”
The power of routine
“Firstly, I cannot reinforce enough the importance of routine. Children should continue to have a sense of structure so try to stay as close to the school hours and timetable on a daily basis. Children are receptive to change and by now they must have already gotten on board with the new learning system.
“However, if you feel there are certain areas where they are facing difficulties, it is best to flag it to the school teachers. Also, encourage them to be interactive with their teachers and get regular feedback. Positive encouragement and being slightly fluid while maintaining an overall structure is important as children need to thrive and flourish. The feelings they imbibe during this time and their mental well-being is crucial so while some parents might need to nudge their children to work harder, its absolutely necessary to do it positively and it’s worthwhile to let go rather than push children to an extent that may cause them distress.”
Dr Mir advises having realistic expectations. “This is an unprecedented time and we are all doing our best including the little members of the household,” she says. “I would encourage parents balance the time children spend on electronic devices and the time they stay unplugged to these devices. It is advisable to monitor their daily screen time and content online.”
Dr Mir says social support at this time is essential for mental health and well-being. “Encourage children to stay in touch with their friends and family virtually as social support and interaction can be valuable at this time.”
She adds that parents need to reflect inwards and think about how they have taken to the current situation. “Children will mirror parents so it is essential to manage your own stressors and your reaction so that you can be role models for your children.”
Creativity and ensuring indoor time that is interactive and entertaining is helpful. “Help children find ways to express themselves through creative activities, this is a good time to speak to them or observe and harness the hobbies or new skills they are interested to learn. We need to reimagine learning.
“Adaptation is critical and we should cope and accept the situation. It is a matter of time — until then we should do our best to make it count.”