The impact of crises such as COVID-19 on children is profound. The UN stated as much in a policy brief in April 2020. This impact reaches far beyond the direct health challenges that attend the pandemic. The UN report showed that the economic repercussions of the crisis may drag 42-66 million children into extreme poverty. While the effects of the situation may not be quite as visible for the average American kid, they are no less dramatic.
COVID-19 Pandemic and the Average kid
Governments worldwide imposed several measures to keep people safe and minimize the transmission of the virus. The precaution that impacted children the most was the closure of schools and the restrictions on outdoor play. Meanwhile the parents, despite spending more time at home, have become busier. These factors have multiple effects.
Children and parents spend more time around each other, but not necessarily together. Children see their friends and teachers less, if at all. Routines, as we have known them, have been disrupted beyond recognition. These issues are compounded by the fact that about 23% of US children under the age of 18 live in single-parent homes.
Dr. McCarthy of Harvard Medical School states that these conditions could throw homes into imbalance. There have been increasing reports of children having difficulties falling sleep. Many have shown altered eating habits. Doctors are getting numerous complaints of children having become more irritable and throwing tantrums. The circumstances are clearly stressful for both children and parents. They are changing our attitudes and behaviors remarkably. These indicators reveal the urgent need to apply corrective measures.
How parents can help
Detachment from play can affect the psychological health of children, as reported by Ginsburg and others at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents can easily relate to this. The first playmates children get to have are parents. This means parents have the possibility to reawaken those childhood connections and utilize them to advantage.
Dr. McCarthy suggests that in the present situation parents should cut the kids some slack around the house. Find ways to create play and fun with household activities and chores. Turn house chores to games. Introduce a creative reward system for kids to participate more. For some parents this may feel awkward at the outset. Remember that kids need the engagement as well as the activity.
Meeting their needs
According to an OECD report from August 2020, one in 5 children in the US grows up in poverty. The economic challenges created by the crisis will expose more children to hardships. The UN proposes that parents should take practical steps to protect their children. At the top of the list of these measures is the provision of good accommodation. Home is the safest place during a pandemic. Being at home is effective in keeping kids safe during lockdowns, while inadequate accommodation makes it almost impossible to adhere to lockdowns.
Companionship is important as well. Travel restrictions and social distancing mean that kids rarely get to meet friends and relatives. The challenge is exacerbated for kids who have one or both parents living and working abroad. Migrant parents work hard to send money online and support their families with remittances. However their absence creates a void that is hard to fill.
Child psychologists advise that parents must regularly connect with teachers from their kids’ schools. It is an important collaborative step in helping parents understand how best to help their children. Parents can also open new communication channels. Help kids connect with their school friends and distant members of the family via video calls and social media. The New York Times reports that such measures are helping numerous American families cope with the difficult times. In single-parent households kids can really benefit from communicating with the other parent. Divorce Attorney Warner Bates recommends several co-parenting applications for separated parents.
With these resources and motivation parents can really help reverse the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic for their children.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.