Constant change due to CMCO can impact a child’s development, say experts

Children don’t feel safe when there isn’t a consistent routine in their life, according to a child psychologist.

PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 pandemic and various phases of movement control order (MCO) have disrupted the daily routines of Malaysians, including children.

After going through four months of MCO since March 18, students in Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya find themselves staying home again with the conditional MCO enforced on Oct 14.

Child psychiatrist Dr Norharlina Bahar said the constant change in the daily routine of children could affect their emotional and mental development.

“Children don’t feel safe when there isn’t a consistent routine. One moment it’s physical classes, the next moment it’s online classes.

“When there’s an insecure situation, the brain will produce a response that makes it difficult for children to learn and study and this could make them unproductive,” she said.

Norharlina added that the CMCO period also denied children their nature of wanting to play and make friends, warning that this could even lead to depression.

“The CMCO makes them go through a phase of solitude and not having relationships with friends, and this could contribute to a feeling of insecurity and depression.

“If a child’s emotional development is disrupted, then surely it will give rise to problems later (in their life).”

Meanwhile, another expert, Dr Pravin Vasanthan said parents need to allow their kids to be on social media for longer than before during the CMCO, especially when it comes to their use of apps such as Whatsapp or Zoom to make video calls.

He said this could help alleviate the stress they feel from not being able to spend time physically with their friends and family, and at the same time also give them access to a healthy support system.

On parents having to care for their kids while working from home, secretary of the National School Counsellor Council, Nor Azita Buyong, said this phase would undoubtedly be very challenging as parents face stress from their bosses and having to manage their children’s routine too.

She said a well-planned and consistent daily schedule for the kids could help both parents and their children in managing the stress that might surface during this period.

“Most importantly, parents shouldn’t panic. They need to let their children understand that this is a new thing, a new lifestyle and that everyone has to learn how to overcome it,” she said.