Are there any long-term mental health effects you expect to see in children emerging from this pandemic? What can parents do to alleviate them?
I think the outcome we want to try to avoid is children becoming extremely cautious because of the pandemic. Their lives have been hampered by the pandemic and I wouldn’t want to see children continuing to live very constrained lives when it’s no longer necessary, because that would deprive them of all the variety that will help them thrive and thrive. flourish.
The other result we want to monitor concerns children who have missed a school stage. This must be resolved and the lost learning must be made up. I fear that there are children whose school lives have been turned upside down who need and deserve academic support, as well as social and emotional support, to get their learning back on track at a reasonable pace.
The way we prevent these results is to first continue to urge children to spread their wings when it is safe. If they’re feeling really nervous about going back out into the world, we can remind them that they don’t have to do everything at once. They can take small steps. We want to remind you that over time, avoidance fuels anxiety. Children had to avoid many things in the name of their physical health. But in the name of sanity, once it becomes safe to be back in the world, it’s important that they begin to resume the normal activities that come with childhood and adolescence.
As for academic challenges, there’s a tremendous amount of work to be done to understand what each child has and hasn’t learned in school, because the range of what has been mastered — even in a single classroom — is huge. Many children have struggled to learn during the pandemic, even those who had good access to online learning, which many did not. So the work ahead is to discern what kids have learned and what they haven’t learned, and find ways to fill the gaps so that having missed out on content during the pandemic doesn’t compromise their education in the future.
How can parents find support if they feel anxious about letting their children fly?
I think we have to recognize that the parents also missed developmental milestones. Under normal conditions, our children gradually branch out into the world. For parents, this gradual process is part of what makes it more comfortable for us to encourage our children to exercise independence. One thing that I think a lot of parents are struggling with right now is that they’ve had their kids and teens very close to home for a few years. And so it’s not easy as a parent to go from having your child very close to home to helping them develop the kind of independence that might be appropriate at their age now. What I would encourage parents to do is both help their children spread their wings, but also get support to see how difficult it can be to watch your child leave the nest.
One thing that can help is talking with parents who raised children the same age as your child before the pandemic. Reassure yourself with these parents about what children aged 10, 13 and 16 can do independently. Because when parents are confident that a child can fend for themselves, it helps build children’s confidence that they can do things on their own.
>>Read: How to help your child reopen