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Is the Pandemic Causing Children’s Anxiety to Go Up or Down?

Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. Be strong. You’ve got this! Take it day by day – Karen Salmansohn

|| Nishica Choudhary

The fear of losing loved ones to the coronavirus infection is most apparent among children who dabble with immense anxiety and emotional stress brought by the ongoing pandemic and lockdown. Doctors say that the toll on the mental health of the young ones is way more than the physical symptoms of COVID-19.

It is a well-established fact that anxiety levels among schoolchildren have risen to record levels in recent years. Indeed, by some estimates, as many as a third of schoolchildren suffer from anxiety sufficient for a clinical diagnosis of anxiety disorder.

During lockdown, social distancing will have meant some friendships will have deteriorated because children have been unable to see each other. Dr van Zwanenberg explained that allowing children to meet up with old friends can be very helpful. She said parents “should encourage their child back out into the outside world again as much possible within the rules; children meeting their friends at a park or in a garden, and encouraging them to run around, at a distance from their parent, is a good idea so they get used to not always having parents in close proximity”.

Traumatic Stress Symptoms:

  • Intrusive fearful thoughts
  • Anger, frustration, moodiness or continual irritation
  • Sleeplessness or disturbing dreams
  • Fear, anxiety or panic
  • Poor concentration or difficultly remembering the most basic of tasks
  • Indecision or second guessing every decision
  • Inability to embrace complex concepts
  • Detachment or emotional numbness
  • Hyper-vigilance of danger, for instance when someone sneezes
  • Hopelessness, dread or self-destructive thoughts
  • Sadness or continual waves of grief (lost graduations and prom)
  • Inability to listen to instruction, or emotional distancing
  • Chronic exhaustion or energy loss

5 steps to help your kids manage lockdown stress

  1. Maintain Routines: To the extent possible, maintain a regular schedule to reassure children and promote physical and mental health.
  1. Keep them connected: Develop plans for them to connect with friends or extended family in safe way, whether it’s by phone, text or video chat.
  1. Watch your words: be aware of any comments that other adults are making around your children, explaining what those comments mean if they are different from the values you teach.
  1. Manage media consumption
  • Limit the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information can lead to unnecessary anxiety.
  1. Give them tasks to do: Keeping children’s minds focused on specific tasks eliminates a lot of their stress. You can structure playtime, assign chores or ask them to create something, anything. Their minds can become hyper-focused to stimuli around them – good or bad.

The Benefits of Puzzles in Early Childhood Development

Puzzles are also an important educational learning tool for toddlers and young children as they provide many skills and cognitive learning benefits and opportunities.

People have long known that puzzles present many benefits for children as they develop. Children usually start out with simple knobbed puzzles that are outlines of simple shapes that fit into corresponding board cutouts. From there they go to more complex silhouettes of real world objects that take more consideration.

The three basics of what puzzles do for children

When a child is alone with a puzzle parents can expect three basic skills to be built:

  • Physical skills — from holding puzzle pieces and turning them until they fit
  • Cognitive skills — as they solve the problems of a puzzle
  • Emotional skills — they learn patience and are rewarded when they complete the puzzle

These three basic skills are the building blocks for a well-rounded person. As Nancy Maldonado states in an article External link, puzzles allow “an opportunity for young children to focus on an activity that has an ending,” completing the pleasing image.

Advantages of Puzzles for Your Child Development

  • Spatial Awareness.
  • Shape Recognition.
  • Topic-Specific Knowledge.
  • Fine Motor Ability.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination.
  • Problem Solving Skills.

One of the many benefits of puzzles is that they build social development skills. Puzzles provide a great opportunity for children to work together to accomplish a greater goal, which enhances and promotes cooperative play. Research also shows that a child’s brain development is influenced greatly when they act or manipulate the environment around them

Coronavirus can connect your family in new ways during the lockdown. Family dinner conversations can go deeper into conversations that will build mental wellness and resiliency. To quote Charles Dickens, It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It is the same for your family. This can be the best or worst of times, – that choice is up to you.

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