The pandemic has been extremely distressing for not only parents, but it has also left an indelible mark on the minds of young children. From being introduced to a world where masks, social distancing, and hand sanitisers are mandatory, to seeing their near ones suffer, this phase has not been easy on children. Safe to say that a COVID-19 childhood has brought on its own set of unique challenges.
And even though the world may return to normalcy in due course of time, the impact of the pandemic on young children can never been more grave.
Parents’ Stress Is Often Passed On To Children
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Parents have felt more stressed by the effects of the pandemic. Some of you might have lost your jobs and dealing with tighter finances to struggling with young children, home chores and office work. These reasons could have led you to be tougher with the children.
According to a project in Britain tracking children under the age of two growing up amid the pandemic, 98 percent of organisations working with families believe: babies and toddlers have been affected by higher parental stress and anxiety.
The First 1001 Days Movement highlights impact of COVID-19 on parents and babies. The project found that parents were stressed as they had to juggle between different roles.
There is another study to throw light on the issue. A local survey of about 1,000 mothers by charity Focus on the Family Singapore found that the pandemic from April to June added to the physical and mental load mothers already carry at home. About 60 percent of the mothers reported stress levels of 7 out of 10.
Full-time working mothers were found to be significantly more stressed than other mums.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have entailed major changes for many children and their families, not just because of the lockdown, restricted measures, social isolation, changing demographics and the reduction of available health services, but also because of the sudden and possibly long-term increase in child poverty and family uncertainty.
In some families, COVID‑19 creates a ‘pressure cooker’ situation, in which family stress may reach toxic levels. Unfortunately, there is more that children go through.
COVID-19 Childhood: How The Pandemic Affected The Little Ones
The pandemic resulted in schools getting closed across the world (Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)
The sudden school closure because of the pandemic affected children across the world.
According to UNESCO, the education of nearly 1.6 billion pupils in 190 countries, which is 90 percent of the world’s school-age children, was affected due to COVID-19 school closure.
This not only affected the learning development but also the well-being of several children. UNESCO explains that prolonged school closures will also expose the most vulnerable children to the heightened risk of exploitation.
Increasing gap between the haves and the have not
online learning (Photo Courtesy: Pixabay)
Schools are not only places of learning. They provide social protection, nutrition, health and emotional support that are a life security for the most disadvantaged. And this applies in all countries, from low to the high income. The World Food Programme estimates that 370 million children are not receiving school meals as a result of school closures.
This may affect not all children in the same way. Some experts fear that this will widen the gap in educational achievement between richer and poorer families.
According to UNESCO, as half the world’s students don’t have access to a household computer, the chance of learning loss over this period is nearly inevitable.
A recent study from the UK found that children from richer families are spending about 30 percent more time on home learning than those from poorer families.
Besides this, the better-off students have access to more resources for home learning. These families have better access to more individualised resources such as private tutoring or chats with teachers. They also have a better home set-up for distance learning.
Mental health degradation
A child is being exposed to a lot of things at this age. So the pandemic will not only affect the intellectual development of the kid, but may also impact their mental wellbeing.
Teachers are often the first people to notice deteriorating mental health among their students and to encourage them to seek treatment, and many schools provide counselling and psychotherapy on site.
Now with the school closure, addressing the mental health of the young minds has become extremely challenging.
Increased stranger anxiety
With no or reduced physical interactions with children, there has been an increase in stranger anxiety. The masks have made it even more difficult for children to read people’s facial expression.
Studies have shown that visual cues are important in helping children to identify emotions and express themselves during social interactions.
It is very important for schools and family members to help children rely on other cues, like a tone of voice or body language, to identify other’s emotions.
If you feel that your kid requires help, then there are a few health clinics in Singapore that offer this type of assistance. It is better to seek counselling and help your child to overcome the difficult phase, than to see them suffer in life.
Address: 101 Irrawaddy Road, Royal Square at Novena, #13-05, Singapore 329565
Address: 3 Mount Elizabeth, Singapore 228510 Phone: 6887 3378
Incidentally, just as everything else, the pandemic also has had its pros and cons. Yes, it has heightened stress, but it has also allowed parents to watch their child’s development and progress everyday. So while you try to navigate through these choppy waters, think about your children too.
Provide them with adequate support through communication, attentiveness, and most of all your time.