The pandemic and lockdown have changed children’s lives in many ways. Disrupted routines, uncertainty and parental anxiety can have an impact on children’s mental health. We spoke to counselling psychologist Reabetsoe Buys about the mental health effects she is seeing in kids, and tips for how you can help your children navigate this strange time.
How children are affected by COVID-19 and the lockdownThe COVID-19 pandemic might be just a vague concept for younger kids, but some children will feel fearful about the virus. They may be scared of getting sick, and in particular worried about how it might affect their grandparents.
As well as worrying about the virus, children are feeling the effects of the lockdown, which has left them more socially isolated and spending way more time at home and with the family. “Almost overnight children had to stop going to school and visiting friends and relatives over the weekends. Not only is this very confusing for them, but it has given rise to feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability,” says Reabetsoe.
Now that schools are reopening (and sometimes closing again), the environment is very different from what children were used to, and that in itself can be confusing and unsettling.
These fears and uncertainties can affect children in different ways. Reabetsoe says you may have noticed:
- Increased anxiety, clinginess and fear
- “Big” emotions, as in emotional outbursts, anger and irritability
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Bodily complaints like stomach aches or headaches which seem to have no medical basis
- Regression, such as being afraid to be sleep in own room
- Feelings of sadness and loneliness, and missing school and their friends
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“Reprinted from 1life”