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5 Full Weeks Since Schools Closed: Children’s Responses Now

5 Full Weeks Since Schools Closed: Children’s Responses Now Covid-19 and parents, new york

Dear Parents,
The last newsletter that was published for this clinical blog was right at the start of the school/college shut downs that occurred because of this pandemic. The advice was centered on how to speak with children and youth about the pandemic and what to expect in terms of their developmental handling of the information. For the 5th straight week now, all the children in New York and surrounding states have been at home. Whether they are preschoolers, elementary aged students, middle, high school or college students, they faced this great change with initial bravery as they had to.

They were thrusted into the unknown as we parents were too. We were scared and they were buffered from some if it if they could feel a bit of our strength. Still more, children and youth have tremendous resilience within their own spirits.

The first couple of weeks since school buildings were shut down children were instilled with the sense of awe in dealing with the newness of this novel situation. They trusted that their educators would guide them, inform them, and take the lead; and, they did. This helped secure a sense of trust that things will be manageable. As most of the youth then entered the 3rd week or so without the typical school routine, the familiarity of this new home-schooling/online/distance learning became real. The pressure to perform was rising again and some liked it and did what they needed to, while others felt overwhelmed. Still, they knew those around them care and schools and colleges/universities continue to do their best with the process.

Now, in the full 5th week since the school shut down, many children and youth are getting a bit restless, although mild in comparison to what would be expected for this situation. They are magically understanding. They are embracing of this reality. However, there are increased thoughts and questions (“will school ever re-open?,” “will I have school in the fall?,” “I feel I am losing touch with friends,” “why do I feel so sad?”). Some have fears, and the worry about what if mom or dad or other loved ones get ill still looms present.

Parents, too, are feeling the lengthened uncertainty more so now than at first. The first five weeks has brought on questions about why teens and youth are consumed with very late sleep routines and unsettled day schedules when school days off occur. Questions about lack of movement or regular exercise also preoccupy most parents with all of us centered around a more sedentary home life and existence. Parents are concerned about screen time being so high. Things are not normal, although we would like to prepare each day to be so. We tell our children to be positive and think hopefully.

We also need to be understanding that expectations have to be adjusted. We need to reserve our judgments about how they use their time because things are not normal. We are in this together and with our careful understanding about what is typical development for children and youth and how this pandemic with a shelter in place affects them, we can help them to thrive.

Dr. Dimitra Robokos

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