Back to school and COVID: psychological consequences for children

The waves of coronavirus contagion have not yet stopped and their effects are being felt in many aspects of society, not only materially and economically, but also psychologically.

In light of this, it is only natural that there are concerns about the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for the most psychologically vulnerable social groups, including boys and girls.

Therefore, in this article we will focus on the consequences of the back-to-school situation during the pandemic crisis and their emotional impact on children of the House.

    Why are the little ones psychologically vulnerable to the pandemic crisis?

    Childhood is, in most cases, the stage of life in which we are most psychologically vulnerable: what happens around us greatly influences our emotional, cognitive and behavioral development, for better or for worse. .

    It makes sense that it should be like this: in our first years of life we ​​are constantly adapting to all kinds of new situations that life poses to us, in front of which we have much less knowledge and references than when we are adults and we already have both a fully developed and mature brain and a series of practical and theoretical knowledge about how the world works .

    That is why, while we retain the ability to learn and adjust our minds to challenges that we have never faced before, during childhood, the human mind is particularly flexible and inclined to integrate experiences quickly, at the cost of not always doing it in the most systematic and systematic way. appropriate way for our own well-being.

    After all, if learning what is going on around us in childhood is already a task that takes effort, learning to deal with the emotions that it produces in us and with the dysfunctional patterns of behavior that certain experiences can generate is even more so. complicated, especially if you don’t have any help.

    Knowing this, it is not uncommon for the coronavirus crisis to affect not only many children but also their families.. Now, with the prospect of starting a new school year, it gives way to another experience that the little ones had not had before: the first weeks when certain dynamics of work in the classroom will have changed, and in which there is still a some level of fear and uncertainty as to what will happen these months.

      Main consequences of going back to school during the coronavirus era

      These are the main aspects in which going back to school in the context of the pandemic can affect boys and girls. They should not affect everyone (in fact, the little ones in whom almost all of these forms of discomfort occur will likely be a clear minority, and many will not manifest any of them) but they should be taken into account in the process. time. to take care of your well-being.

      1. Vulnerability to family anxiety

      Boys and girls are vulnerable to anxiety when it is present in their daily lives for the people they live with. For example, it is known that children whose parents have generalized anxiety disorder are more likely to develop stress and anxiety problems.

      This is why in families where going back to school is a source of discomfort due to the progression of viral infections (that is to say the idea of ​​the risk of putting the virus at home), a climate of unrest can be created in which everyone suffers, And in which a vicious cycle is generated: the discomfort of others makes us feel worse, and vice versa.

      2. Feelings of guilt

      Having seen all the problems caused by the first wave of contagion, and having returned many hours without parental supervision after several months of protection, it is likely that many minors will feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of minimizing the risk of infection. This phenomenon can occur especially in children who live with people belonging to a risk group: the elderly, people with respiratory diseases, etc.

      For example, it can lead some boys and girls to try to take extreme precautions to an unhealthy point and it creates more problems than it saves. I as it is impossible to neglect at any time, feelings of guilt arise, Posing an additional challenge that you need to know how to deal with emotionally. After all, it will be several days before we know for sure that this moment when the little one put his hand in his mouth did not result in subsequent contagions.

      3. Demotivation and stress due to uncertainty

      It is no secret that there is clear uncertainty about what will happen during the first months of the school year, both socially and in the organization of the education system.

      Not being able to draw clear organizational plans knowing that the course will go as it can that a lot of boys and girls are demotivated and take these weeks of classes like a time thrown in the trash, In which it will not be possible to complete the programs or consolidate knowledge due to the fact that at any time the schools will be closed and it will be improvised on how the courses will continue. Most have already lived the experience of distance learning at the end of the previous year, in which the lack of preparation of the education system in the face of this type of scenario was evident.

      On the other hand, this lack of clear information about what is going to happen can lead many little ones to a deadlock situation in which doubts accumulate to the point of not knowing what to do and suffering from stress. The prospect of seeing courses interrupted and subjected to a way of studying marked by improvisation remains a reference. For example: is it necessary to make an effort to prepare for the oral presentation in front of the whole class, if this is ultimately not possible? If so, is it wrong to make it intended to be seen by many people and not just the teacher? Will I be able to get the physical education grade at the end of the term? Etc.

      4. Doubts about how to relate to others

      As you might expect, many boys and girls will be more afraid than the rest of the idea of ​​getting infected from being around others. This, given that boys and girls tend to touch each other more than adults, is relevant, because trying to avoid this type of interaction can result in many being excluded from the dynamics of the game, Which they experience rejection.

      What to do?

      When faced with these types of risks and problems, here are some tips to keep in mind.

      1. Help the little ones understand that school is more than what happens in the classroom

      The educational process is not limited to school attendance, and that does not change even if you go to class by videoconference.

      2. Support him in the face of possible conflicts or problems during his socialization.

      Listen to their problems and give them a chance to express themselves without being prejudiced it allows solutions to be sought with the participation of teachers and the rest of the parents.

      3. Help him build his new habits

      Faced with the need to adapt to the new scenario, it is good to help children generate this dynamic of habits, either by making it easier for them to learn and memorize these routines as well as during time changes if necessary.

      4. Help him to question his fears.

      Feelings of fear and guilt they are based on dysfunctional beliefs. Through conversations, children can be helped to see how these beliefs falter in relation to reality.

      5. If needed, go to therapy

      Family therapy and child and adolescent therapy may be the solution in the event of significant and persistent discomfort.

      Are you looking for psychological assistance and psychotherapy services?

      If you believe that any issues arising in the context of the coronavirus pandemic are negatively affecting you and / or your family, please contact us. Fr Psychology of Cribecca we offer psychotherapy for children, adolescents and adults, as well as family therapy and counseling for parents, among other services. You can find us in our center located in Seville, or through online video call therapy. On this page you will find our contact details.

      Bibliographical references:

      • In addition, E .; Nikolić, N. and Bögels, SM (2017). Environmental transmission of generalized anxiety disorder from parents to children: concerns, experiential avoidance and intolerance of uncertainty. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 19 (2): pages 137-147.
      • Grupe, DW and Nitschke, JB (2013). Uncertainty and anticipation in anxiety. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14 (7): pages 488-501.
      • Osmanağaoğlu, N .; Creswell, C .; Dodd, HF (2018). Intolerance of uncertainty, anxiety, and worry in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 225: pages 80-90.

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