The global health crisis has had a devastating impact on the mental health of many people. The loss of income, unemployment, the deaths of loved ones, the imposed social isolation as a result of stay-at-home orders, and fear of contracting the virus, have led to a mental health crisis in America. It’s not just adults who are suffering. In this age of anxiety, children have been harmed as well. The disruption of their routine, the lack of socialization, and the dread and anxiety that Covid-19 has caused, has left many children suffering from mental health problems. In this article, we will discuss how the pandemic could be impacting childhood development.
A child needs socialization, routine and physical activity to develop properly. Yet, the pandemic has robbed many children of these vital building blocks to their development.
With so many schools for long periods of time, children had to learn from home. This was a necessary measure to protect their wellbeing, but, it had the side-effect of denying children the social interactions they would have had at school, and the opportunity to establish a sense of independence from home, exploring their school environment and making decisions without the aid of their parents. This potentially sets back their sense of self-worth and personal identity.
Children also need play and socialization in order to learn how to navigate through social scenarios, by developing skills such as when to cooperate with others, how to regulate their emotions, how to be tolerant of other people, how to converse with their peers, and other important skills.
It’s worrying to think how the absence of play and socialization will impact childhood development. Children have been cut off from their peers for over a year and that is quite damaging to children. It’s difficult for children to figure out who they are if they are not given the opportunity to interact with their peers.
A further issue that arises from the absence of play and socialization is that children will have a hard time separating themselves from their families and developing their own identities. It cannot be emphasised enough how important kids’ activities are to the formation of identity and fostering a sense of independence.
It is likely that many teenagers will fall behind their peers as a result of the absence of play and socialization. Without proper interventions, their fitness for adulthood will be severely tested and they will struggle with career planning, their sexuality, dating, and building skills.
It’s not all doom and gloom. It is possible to bridge the gap with proper interventions. But it’s important to recognize that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Younger children will have more scope to catch up and so are less likely to suffer long-lasting effects from the pandemic. Parents as well as educators must pay close attention to children in Grade 8 to high school and onwards, as these children are at a sensitive time in their lives and are in need of help.