06 June 2022

Managing the long-term effects of the pandemic on your child's mental health

Key Takeaways Children have missed out on normal developmental opportunities throughout the pandemic. Their social skills are out of practice, and parents may need to provide children with more coaching and explicit instruction than they have had to in the past. Feeling upset by the pandemic is a natural response for children to have.  Two key…, In what ways has the pandemic impacted children’s development?, The universal experience for children in the pandemic has been missing normal developmental opportunities. So much of what helps young people grow and learn comes from enjoying the company of a wide range of caring adults, spending time with a variety of peers and getting to engage in new and interesting experiences. Whatever else children and…, How have children’s social skills been affected by the pandemic?, In terms of social skills, kids are out of practice. Part of how they learn how to get along with others is by spending time with people, making friends, and also by being with people they wouldn't necessarily choose to be around. It's with practice that children and adults get better at doing all of those things. So we are definitely seeing signs…, How have you seen the pandemic impacting children’s mental health?, Without question, the pandemic has caused tremendous distress for children and their families. Children are very sad, very anxious or even very angry about all they've been through. What we're likely to see in the immediate term are children who are just a bit more emotionally fragile than they would be normally. We can help children with that by…, What can a parent do if they are concerned about their child’s reaction to difficult feelings?, I think the first thing that you always want to do is to validate that they are suffering: “Your feelings make sense. You're having the right feeling at the right time. This has been an incredibly difficult period historically, and you've lived through it.” The second step is to make the distinction between the feeling being the problem and the…, Are there any long-term mental health effects you anticipate seeing in children coming out of this pandemic? What can parents do to mitigate them?, I think the outcomes we want to try to prevent are children who become extremely cautious as a result of the pandemic. Their lives were hemmed in by the pandemic and I wouldn't want to see children continue to lead highly constrained lives when that is no longer necessary, because it will deprive them of all of the variety that will help them to…, How can parents find support if they are feeling anxious about letting their children spread their wings?, I think we need to acknowledge that parents missed developmental steps too. Under normal conditions, our children branch out into the world gradually. For parents, that gradual process is part of what makes it more comfortable for us to encourage our children to exercise their independence. One thing I think a lot of parents are struggling with…