Lifestyle

The Pandemic Will Make Kids or Break Them

During a pandemic, as always, life is about balancing risks, not eliminating them.

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The COVID-19 era has worked as a stress test for parents and kids alike, breaking some while bringing out reserves of strength and resilience in others. But it's not the disease itself that's done so much damage; it's the isolation, fear, and stressed adults that have driven many kids during the last year to anxiety, obsessive behavior, and even suicide.

"The strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on children underscores the need for pediatricians to address emotional and behavioral health as part of standard care," the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced on March 15. "Suicidal ideation and attempts have increased among youth during the pandemic."

Around the same time, the Associated Press warned that "pediatric psychiatrists say they're also seeing children with coronavirus-related phobias, tics and eating disorders, obsessing about infection, scrubbing their hands raw, covering their bodies with disinfectant gel, and terrified of getting sick from food." Much of the problem, experts say, lies in the imposed social isolation of lockdown mandates, school closures, and cessation of most normal social contact amid overheated warnings about infection.

"Children and adolescents serve as 'emotional barometers' for their family and often reflect the level of stress of parents and caregivers," the AAP notes. But not all parents have succumbed to the bunker mentality. As the world retreated around them, people often socialized—sometimes quietly when the law or neighbors disapproved—with like-minded acquaintances.

With many public schools closed, some families also created learning pods—rebranded as homeschooling co-ops—in which kids could learn together and mingle. Others chose private schools that offered in-person learning and contact with classmates. While there is some risk of contagion when kids mix, that has to be balanced against the danger to "emotional and behavioral health" from isolation and marinating in fear.

We've seen this personally among my son's classmates at his private school, which allows families to choose remote or in-person learning. While my son physically attends classes, two of his buddies stepped away from their computer screens only once, to visit our house for an assigned film project. "Blink three times if you need me to rescue you from your basement," my son joked to one over Zoom after the brief meeting.

Those families, having seriously altered their lives in response to pandemic fears, probably entrusted their kids to us because my wife is a pediatrician who presumably understands health perils and precautions. And that's true, but not necessarily in the way those who have self-isolated might assume. While she has seen families fall ill and lose people (usually older or with preexisting conditions) to COVID-19, she also has seen children fall prey to lockdown-triggered depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. During a pandemic, as always, life is about balancing risks, not eliminating them.

That's why the AAP has consistently called for in-person learning. "Children absolutely need to return to in-school learning for their healthy development and well-being," AAP President Lee Savio Beers said in January while introducing his organization's latest school guidance. "Policy makers and school administrators should acknowledge that COVID-19 policies are intended to mitigate, not eliminate, risk," the guidance emphasizes.

It's not just education. "Children and adolescents can be encouraged to spend time outdoors participating in physical activities, even with peers, as long as risk mitigation strategies are followed," the AAP says in its separate mental health guidance. "For all ages and stages, facilitating resilience is key."

That observation echoes a November 2020 paper in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry pointing out that "nurturing resilience during a disease pandemic is important as it helps to reduce worries, anxiety and depression." The authors recommend "promoting resilience through shared family beliefs and close relationships among parents and siblings."

Friends are important too. My son has met not just with those two reclusive classmates but also with other trusted friends for role-playing games and general hanging out. In contrast to some of their peers, these kids are remarkably free of anxiety, tics, or serious emotional problems. They don't like the pandemic era, but it's something that drives them to endure rather than hide.

NEXT: Brickbat: Daddy Was an Old-Time Preacher Man

Lifestyle Coronavirus Children Psychology/Psychiatry

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49 responses to “The Pandemic Will Make Kids or Break Them

  1. Shame on you. After the tens of thousands of school children who have died as a result of this virus, you’re suggesting there may be some trade-offs to panicking hysterically? You can never panic enough! If it saves just one life, school children should be sterilized with fire and their ashes boiled in a microwave, it’s the only way to be sure they are virus-free.

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    1. Also good for saving the souls of witch-children.

    2. I hope you mean thousands worldwide. Because here in the US. Children are still far less likely to develop serious complications including Multi System Inflammatory Disease.

  2. “Around the same time, the Associated Press warned that “pediatric psychiatrists say they’re also seeing children with coronavirus-related phobias, tics and eating disorders, obsessing about infection, scrubbing their hands raw, covering their bodies with disinfectant gel, and terrified of getting sick from food.”

    Just for the record, these are not related to the Communist Chinese Virus, but rather to the fascist reactions of government to the virus.

    1. Yep, and the media.

      1. Do the media and the government disagree on anything?

    2. No, it’s the parents. These phobias are all imposed by their pants-soiling parents.

      1. No, it’s the parents. These phobias are all imposed by their pants-soiling parents.

        ^ It is this. My daughter goes to a very progressive school with lots of very progressive, NPR-listening parents. Many of her classmates are suffering from various of these anxiety issues (and were having Climate Change nightmares before COVID came along), but she’s fine even though she’s exposed to all the same stuff because I’ve directly told her that IMHO there is a lot of hysterical over-reaction going on. Once that gets pointed out to a kid, it becomes obvious, but most of these kids’ parents are part of the hysterical over-reaction, and they seem to feel some sense of duty to pass on some of the hysteria to their children.

      2. What American women and American “men” have done to their children as a result of their irrational fear and breathtaking ignorance is far more damaging than what ego-maniacal politicians, power-obsessed unelected bureaucrats and celebrity-consumed “experts” could ever do … steal an entire year of American kids’ childhood.

  3. Hard times create strong men.
    Strong men create good times.
    Good times create weak men.
    Weak men create Hard times. <– You are here

    1. Yep, and the weakest of these men are in Albany, Sacramento, Richmond and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

      1. That’s why Lansing has a woman in charge.

    2. Good times, bad times, you know, I’ve had my share.

      1. ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day

      2. Have you tried not living in New Jersey?

      3. No matter what you do, there’s some Asian kid that can do it better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91pz1E8pAOY

  4. Around the same time, the Associated Press warned that “pediatric psychiatrists say they’re also seeing children with coronavirus-related phobias, tics and eating disorders, obsessing about infection, scrubbing their hands raw, covering their bodies with disinfectant gel, and terrified of getting sick from food.”

    Sounds like some of my 60-something neighbors.

  5. At least we know the truth about teachers, who turn out to be kinda dumb (not smart enough to understand the basic science of disease or the basic math of risk) and kinda selfish (cowards who do not really care about children).

    But I assume the Democratic Party advertising program still shows teachers as saints, just like the beer ads show skinny people.

    1. And FOX News will continue to portray police as saints, like when Biden correctly (broken clock and all that) says there’s a lot of distrust out there towards cops, and is attacked for “bashing the blue”.

      There’s a whole lot of stupid and dishonesty on all sides.

    2. Our local public elementary school’s lawn is now covered with all these signs about “we love our teachers” “teachers are heroes” etc. but is is only open two days a week at this point.

      1. The other three days are reserved for teachers to put up signs on the school lawn.

      2. Put up a sign that says “overpaid glorified babysitters don’t work here and still get paid

      3. Anyone who calls themself a hero is a psychopath.

      4. Batman will be available on Tuesdays between 7:30 am and 3:00 pm and on Thursdays after 1:00 pm.

    3. Teachers run the gamut of dumb to brilliant. Just like any other profession But the Union mentality does beat at them day after day, and the administration heavy atmosphere encourages a “do what you’re told” attitude. Like most any profession, the young and idealistic get beaten into the old and cynical.

      1. The best young teachers tend to quit after a few years, leaving the mediocre ones who like the system

        1. Teaching pays shit, and you get what you pay for.

          1. Teachers in Dallas start at $50k.

            When did the national average become shit pay?

            1. That’s a lot more than they get paid here. My stepbrother went to school to be a history teacher and he makes more money delivering mail.

              1. That sucks.

            2. For the half a year they wor…teach? Plus the benefits package.

  6. “That observation echoes a November 2020 paper in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry pointing out that ‘nurturing resilience during a disease pandemic is important as it helps to reduce worries, anxiety and depression.’ The authors recommend ‘promoting resilience through shared family beliefs and close relationships among parents and siblings.'”

    I doubt this advice helps much in families whose shared beliefs involve constant existential paranoia and uncritical consumption of media and government messaging.

    1. Kids, until they are teenagers anyway, pretty much are reflections of their parents. So the more neurotic and paranoid the parents are, the worse off the kids will be during the pandemic, or any crisis situation. Sad thing is that the parents always think they are acting in the kid’s best interest.

  7. “Much of the problem, experts say, lies in the imposed social isolation of lockdown mandates, school closures, and cessation of most normal social contact amid overheated warnings about infection.”

    No, this comes from the parents, and the younger the child, the stronger their wearing-a-mask-alone-in-car parents’ influence will be. I’ll never forget the @ 5 year-old child last summer who had an absolute meltdown because my masked daughter and I were coming in the opposite direction on an isolated hiking trail. That behavior did not arise out of a vacuum.

    1. You were making your kid wear a mask on an isolated hiking trail?

      Why?

  8. Pfizer vaccine now approved for ages 12 and up. If you’re still shitting your pants over your children dying of the Rona, then why the hell haven’t you vaccinated them? Everyone else, get them vaccinated if you’re able, and send them back to in-person school. There have been no cases of transmission from child to child in a classroom settings. Get with the science and stop believing the cultists.

    Also, private and home schools, not those horrible Teachers Union run government schools.

  9. But, it’s not fair that it would make some kids and break others, so we’re going to have to break them all.

    #Equality

  10. The Mask mandate forever group seem to have forgotten the lessons of the Polio epidemics. Polio has been around since the ancient Egyptians but it was not until the 20th century that we started having the epidemics, this was in the past as infant humans had been exposed to small amounts of the virus but as public hygiene, garbage disposal and sewage treatment, evolved they were not exposed until later in life and the immune system was not prepared for the virus. In my opinion this will be the case here as well, as this group of infants and toddlers age they will have been shielded from exposure to not just Corona/Wuhan but a lot of other viruses and there will be a reckoning coming. I also fear for their developmental issues. As infants our brains become wired to recognize human faces and this is an important part for our development. What having everyone around them masked will do to development of these kids will become apparent as they become older. So not just the mental affects they are seeing now but years down the road.

    1. See also the decline in air pollution and increase in asthma. You will hear from progs that the most asthma cases are in poor kids living in urban areas with poor air quality, but the overall prevalence of asthma has tripled at least since 1970, before the clean air act, catalytic converters, smoking bans, etc.

    2. That was a trade-off in exchange for the near-elimination of cholera and typhus epidemics.

  11. But it’s not the disease itself that’s done so much damage

    Whoooooaaaa, check out science denier Tuccille!

  12. FYI, my company just sent a memo out about ‘return to office’ now that COVID cases are in steep decline: Mask mandates and six foot social distancing are still fully in force and will be for the foreseeable future.

  13. if adults weren’t such idiot psychopaths maybe their kiddies would have more to look forward to than abject child abuse

  14. They’re already broken. In my store, kids are acting like they were raised, not by wolves, but by Shere Khan!

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  16. They were already broken and the pandemic completely destroyed them. Karl Yune Arrow Black Coat

  17. Cultivating resilience during a pandemic is important because it helps reduce worries, anxiety and depression. It is recommended that “to promote resilience through shared family beliefs and the close relationship between parents and siblings”.
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