The school year has started a couple of months ago, and many schools are opting to resume to in-person classes. So, children are required to go back to their pre-pandemic routines of attending class, socializing with peers, participating in group projects, and so on. It should be noted that children who will be attending their first year of school (age 4) would have spent exactly half of their lives quarantined with their parents, and could exhibit strong resistance in regards to attending school.
The necessary precautions that parents were advised to take in order to keep their children safe included primarily social distancing, teaching their children the principles of sanitization/hand washing, as well as the importance of keeping their distance from the people they meet. However, studies show that for many of these children, “the outside” has become associated with danger, and fear for their own as well as their loved one’s health. The phrase “I do not want to go” has been increasingly heard by parents from their children.
According to Singh et al. (2020), quarantine has lead children, irrespective of their ages, to manifest symptoms of clinginess, irritability, inattention, and fear of family members being infected. Moreover, among the negative psychological effects shown by children as a result of isolation include:
• Uncertainty, fear, and isolation > which is “attributable to disruption in their education, physical activities and opportunities for socialization.”
• Disturbed sleep, nightmares, poor appetite, agitation, inattention and separation related anxiety > related to fear of harm occurring to them or a loved one; also related to apprehension of social situations and doubts regarding their inability to fit in.
• Lower levels of excitement and desire to meet or play with friends/family members > caused by the change in their routine; they have become more dependent, attention seeking and clingy to their parents.
Therefore, “it is presumed that children might resist going to school after the lockdown is over and may face difficulty in establishing rapport with their mentors after the schools reopen.” To elaborate, the pandemic and lockdown has had a greater impact on children’s than adult’s psychological and social wellbeing, majorly because of their limited view and understanding of the situation, and because the years of their life that are essential for their psychosocial development have been impacted. Parents must realize how difficult the major change in the routine of things can be on children, and must remember that a secure family environment, good communication with their child, and patience are key for easing the child’s first steps back into society.
Singh, S., Roy, D., Sinha, K., Parveen, S., Sharma, G., & Joshi, G. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on mental health of children and adolescents: A narrative review with recommendations. Psychiatry research, 293, 113429. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113429