In March 2020, US citizens were forced into a period of lockdown and isolation and–as a result–were forced to quickly redefine their “norm” and began to make sense of their new, drastically different lifestyles. While the pandemic has left a profound effect on all populations, it is critical that we work to keep children specifically on a path towards growth and success. Below are some general positive and negative impacts that COVID-19 has had on children, and moreover, how we can guide them and help them adjust.
Education. The pandemic caused notable disruptions to multiple aspects of a child’s daily routine. Perhaps the greatest disruption was the closing of schools and implementation of online learning. Parent concerns about the quality of online learning should not be underestimated as even temporary school closures can result in large medium-term lost learning. Fortunately, there are high hopes that returning to in-person schooling will allow education systems to “build back better.” Potential remediation efforts would review subject matter from the previous grade before covering matters of the current grade. Additionally, further support and encouragement at home could motivate children with their schoolwork and facilitate a drive to learn.
Family Functioning. School closures and “lockdown” led many families to spend much more time together than they may have previously did. While this reality may have brought certain families closer together; some studies suggest that family cohesion and expressiveness decreased during the pandemic and family conflict remained the same. This could result in a decrease in family functioning, tensions in relationships at home, or any other new or worsening concerns. Counseling may be a great option to help family life improve and adjust amidst such a life/routine altering time.
World Awareness. While a lack of in person-schooling is understandably concerning for children’s education, it is important to continue to teach and educate children in different ways. Being honest and reassuring children about the situation is a great way to facilitate a global awareness they may not have previously had. Teaching children about the importance of their health and showing them that they can overcome changes and obstacles is a good way to ensure that they are still learning–even if it’s not in the “textbook” fashion.
Socialization. Children were encouraged to utilize technology to continue their education during the pandemic. Technology was also most likely used to remain in touch with family and peers. It is exceptionally important to recognize the negative effects that the Internet can have when it’s being used for things other than school and staying in touch with friends and family. Cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and other online distractions are a large concern now more than ever as technology usage skyrockets. Encouraging safe in-person activities, face-to-face connections, and finding enjoyment from places not behind the screen could further help children with socialization skills and inner confidence.
A large-scale, life-changing event like the COVID-19 pandemic can cause multiple changes in a child’s behavior, learning, and attitude. Counseling offered at NRS|Lifespan can address children adjustment and improve their overall well-being during this time.
Steven P. Greco, PhD, ABN
Board Certified, Neuropsychology
Partner of NRS|LS