The pandemic is leaving a legacy of sad and lonely children

Many children feel fearful and lonely because they have had to trade their school environments for their homes.

LatinAmerican Post | María Consuelo Caicedo

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Covid-19 has brought multiple consequences for humanity, among them, that many parents have had to assume work at home and the demands of permanent care of their children as well as the obligations of the house, it is an emotionally overwhelming reality that they are not prepared for.

The Woman Post spoke with Claudia Bolívar, a psychologist at the Universidad de Los Andes de Bogotá, in Colombia, who explained what is currently happening in the country's homes under the scenario of the global pandemic. "This is a challenging situation for the parenting process." The permanent confinement with parents who scold, punish, yell, or never have time for their children, generates in some children a fear of endless retaliation. In contrast, others become aggressive and challenge the authority of the father and mother. Others are complacent to avoid conflict, but their self-esteem is damaged.

Parents speak out

From the perspective of Claudia Bolívar, in this scenario of non-optional confinement, two styles of parents tend to manifest themselves based on coexistence with young children, negligence and the exacerbated imposition of authority: "In the first case, they are parents with long hours of work that neglect their children and, frequently, leave them in the 'care' of technology or a family member who can take care of them (older brothers or grandparents). In the houses of the second father style, punishments and screams were shared, and the child's fear comes to the fore and remains because he is always anticipating blows or reprimands".

In short, the silence and order that mom and dad expect from their children, is at odds with their childlike nature, which is often expressed in laughter, frequent comments, runs, jumps, disorder, and frequent demands for attention. This situation is a breeding ground for parents to respond with outrageous screams or closed doors for hours that, for the child, is a clear expression of indifference.

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Sad and lonely children

The children are saddened by the estrangement of their friends whose company at school meant joy, shelter, and collaboration. They feel lonely.

On the other hand, the psychologist draws attention to their fear of death, a consequence of the news content and comments at home on behalf of the pandemic, those affected and the lives that it takes day by day: "The child wonders when it will turn to him, his parents or his grandparents and the absence of answers torment him." The monopoly of anxiety generated by the uncertainties around this new reality that COVID-19 imposed on us is not the monopoly of adults.

There are always answers

In principle, parents of young children must be aware of their children's reactions and understand that it is necessary to pay attention to them. It is also essential to explain the changes in their tasks and ask for their collaboration.

Other recommendations by Claudia Bolívar revolve around taking into account the emotions and feelings of children. Also, open physical and temporary spaces for activities that will make the little one feel comfortable and loved. In this sense, things will improve at home when there are changes like these:

- The establishment of routines and their fulfillment (studying, playing, watching movies, eating, bathing, etc.).

- Open spaces for family entertainment (board games, pillow fight, crafts with resources that are had at home such as threads, buttons, markers, pasta figures, fabric scraps, clay, etc.)

- Going outdoors with the children on weekends, observing biosecurity protocols.

- Manage communication spaces for the child to express how they feel (the setting for family meals is ideal).

- Give affection (hug your children, kiss them, congratulate them on their school progress, tell them how much you love them).

- Look into the eyes of children when talking to them.

A reference study

A study carried out by psychologists from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche in Spain last April, a month after the quarantine began in the world, draws attention to the psychological affectation of children and adolescents from 3 to 18 years old due to confinement.

The study, which included interviews with 1,125 Italian and Spanish parents, concluded that 9 out of 10 children and adolescents in that European country manifest concentration difficulties (69%), boredom that exceeds the usual (49%), greater dependence on their parents (36%) and concern about the occasional departure from home of them and their relatives (30%)