The Pandemic and Young Children

The Pandemic and Young Children

When I allow my mind to dwell on COVID, I often think about how much this pandemic must be affecting children. I worry about my former and current students and I wonder if they are alright. Under normal circumstances, children already have little control over what happens to them and around them. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to grow up during a time when you have even less control than usual.

We often don’t realize how perceptive children are. They can sense feelings of unease and anxiety in the grownups around them. We need to acknowledge this, and give them space to process this. I understand that’s not easy, especially considering how we, ourselves, are barely keeping it together.

During my face-to-face sessions with one of my tutees – don’t worry, we observe proper health and safety measures (wearing masks, practicing proper physical distancing, and very frequent hand washing 😂), the topic of COVID often comes up. He wistfully refers to 2019 as “the olden days.” As in, “in 2019, in the olden days, when people could hug,” and while it seems funny, there is a sadness to it because it is true. For young children, months and even a year is so significant in their lives. It’s such a big chunk of it.

My student has shed tears, recalling past experiences with friends and former teachers. I ache inside when this happens, but I don’t tell him to stop crying or not to be sad. Instead, I sit quietly, a safe distance away, and tell him that it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to miss how things used to be. I confess that I do, too. Then we spend a few minutes sharing the things we miss most – not having to wear a mask, getting to hug people or high 5, eating in restaurants – before returning to what we were doing.

We often don’t realize how perceptive children are. They can sense feelings of unease and anxiety in the grownups around them. We need to acknowledge this, and give them space to process this.

I don’t have a definitive answer for the best way to provide children with the emotional support they need. On some days, it is a struggle for me, even, to manage my own emotions and fears. But I know what helps me – talking to loved ones, practicing mindfulness, and enjoying the little things when I can. And I believe in trying those things with children too.

So I talk to my students, even when the topic makes me want to cry. We do mindfulness exercises together (even as simple as taking a few deep breaths). We share stories of fond memories, even when they are tinged with sadness. And we play as best we can, given the necessary safety measures.

We are living in unprecedented times. We are making things up as we go, including how to get by emotionally. Even as we, grownups, struggle to find appropriate and effective means of coping, let us share those tools with our children. Let’s take care of ourselves, and let’s take care of each other too. ❤️

🌱Reflection by: Teacher Meg
🌱This reflection was inspired from this article on Time.com

Header photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

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