How has lockdown impacted our children’s development?
Will the lockdown generation of children, particularly pre-school children, be disadvantaged? What will be the long-term effect? Parents have become teachers, and home has become a school. But parents are not education experts, and so how is this supposed to work?
Jackie Harland and Helen Garnett, two acclaimed childhood development experts tell us their thoughts.
Lockdown stirred up more fears and concerns about our children’s development than at any other time in our recent history. With everyone barred from extended family and friends, life took on an unprecedented turn. Parents became teachers, and home became a school. But parents are not education experts, and so how was this supposed to work? Back before Covid-19, the decision to home school may have taken months or even years to reach. With lockdown, parents had no choice and very little preparation.
How has this impacted our children’s development? Will the lockdown generation of children, particularly pre-school children, be disadvantaged? What will be the long-term effect?
Creating a new social world
A social world is important for young children but it is not necessarily going to cause lasting damage to have this social world temporarily removed. Of course, there are vulnerable children, and these are of huge concern, but for the majority, the world is still socialising and therefore requires some sustained and focused effort to reach out and connect.
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What can you do during this post lockdown time? There is no doubt about it – children need to play with other children, particularly children, particularly children who do not have siblings. Lockdown prevented this. However, intimacy, connection, and communication are the most elementary needs of a child, and there is absolutely no reason for these to be missing, even is social times with friends has become more limited.
A young child waving at a beloved grandmother over a Zoom, Skype or a FaceTime call can help maintain a connection. Very short ‘virtual get-togethers’ with children as young as one can be hugely beneficial. Looking at photographs or videos of family has the same effect.
One father, unable to be with his two young children during lockdown, sent a daily video of himself reading the children’s favourite stories. His daughters were aged two and four. They loved it! In short, connection in whatever form it takes is important and effective and will help alleviate any lack of physical proximity.
Whatever your situation, be creative about the ways in which you can create social opportunities for your children. The bottom line is that socialisation is not always about physical proximity.
Ready, steady, go!
Post lockdown is a stressful time, where the future is uncertain and opportunities for children to socialise together are more limited. Essentially, children thrive when parents are ‘steady’. Wellbeing builds and grows when adults are loving and consistent because such loving consistency helps children to regulate and most importantly feel secure when there are changes all around them.
We have an opportunity to use this unprecedented time to re-focus on our interactions with our children and watch their wellbeing grow.
Do you feel that lockdown may have affected your child’s development? We know that early experiences in a child’s life shape their future. What is the long-term effect of lockdown and post-lockdown for children?
For children aged 1-5 years
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