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COVID-19 pandemic - Impact on children's day to day skills

Parents and children are facing major disruptions with the outbreak of coronavirus disease. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the crisis of care and learning. With the disruption of school, playdates with friends and other beloved routines and physical distancing, it’s a lot to take in and it’s difficult for everyone in the family.

Regressive behaviours (difficulty with skills that your child had formerly mastered such as language and interaction, toilet training and sleeping, and difficulties managing their feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety) have become increasingly common. If you’re noticing regression with your children, you’re not alone.

We would like to put up what you may be experiencing with your children and how to – with kindness and understanding – get through it together.

Regression in Children during COVID-19 pandemic:

we’ve been seeing a lot of regression and more than what, in typical times, is developmentally appropriate. We are seeing children regressing through using baby talk, needing help with routines, needing help with sleeping and toileting – and much more than what’s usual for them.

We’re also seeing a lot of behavioural challenges like increased temper tantrums and behavioural dysregulations. Possibly due to restricted social interactions, no friends, no regular schooling, lot of uncertainties leading to anxiety, frustration and stress for both children and parents.

Parental Stress during COVID-19 pandemic

Parental guilt has intensified during COVID. Parents are concerned about their children’s social isolation. They worry about their children’s social skills, play opportunities and their

learning. Children have great antenna for their parents’ worries, so sometimes giving voice to that is reassuring to your children. Let children know what you are feeling, worried about in a developmentally appropriate way, such as: “This is hard for mommy and daddy too and we’re trying to do our very best to help you learn and play the best way we can.”

Parents are feeling very alone during these difficult times. Many find it helpful to hear that other parents are feeling the same way as they are. Parents feel comforted in knowing they’re not alone, but the stress and anxiety can quickly return when children are not doing the work that the teacher sent, not listening to the virtual lessons and maybe even refusing to attend virtual school.

We know that children often do or emulate what their caregivers do, so parents need to find supports around managing their own stress as this can ultimately help their children’s wellbeing. They are having to help with virtual or in person school, many have to handle childcare at home and at the same time they’re worried about their jobs and their health as well as that of their family.

We’re all doing the best we can. Not everyone parents in the same way, so do not compare yourself to other parents or your children to other children. You know what your values are, you know what you want for your children. We’re doing what we need to get through this.

Can children catch up after the pandemic?

Many parents worry about their children catching up after the pandemic. By staying hopeful and appreciating children’s natural curiosity, motivation and resilience, I would say yes, they will. In the meantime, read to your children and find ways to be together. Think and talk about what is going on outside. Play together and try to learn and grow together. Always remember the greatest thing you can do for your children is to provide them with love and care.

Also keep an open mind that few children might need some interventions in order to overcome the regressions which has already happened. Its need not that every child can cope up on their own just with the regular social life and schoolings. Mainly because they are behaviourally tuned to spending more time on screens either for schooling or meal times or just for free time etc. ultimately leading to alterations in neuronal wirings too…so it might take time and effort to get back to normalcy in terms of focused attention and developmentally appropriate skills.

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