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How Covid-19 has influenced development of children


To-date, society’s youngest members have proven to be rather resilient against COVID-19. And, even when children do get COVID-19, many of them (up to 50%) report no symptoms – which is a good thing! Though administration and staff at day care in Potomac MD remained supportive of all public health measures, imposition of social distancing, prolonged closures, and suspensions of in-person care programs have taken their toll on young minds.

A Dramatically Changed World

For children, a COVID-19 world is one that’s starkly different from the one they knew pre-COVID, and that has left its influence on their mental and physical development:

  • Restrictions on the use of parks and playgrounds has meant fewer exercising and play opportunities
  • Capacity limitations, at malls and other places where they socialize, left kids unable to meet children their own age in social settings
  • Despite the extra care and understanding from teachers and care givers, enforcement of hand sanitization and social distancing at the Rockville daycare center they attended, left most young children feeling “distanced”

Some of these measures were temporary. But the sporadic nature of their implementation, in places where flareups occurred or variants spiked, has taken a toll. As a result, kids have not received the sustained social and cognitive stimulation needed for their development. A dramatically changed world has drastically reduced the amount and quality of such stimulants that they would typically receive outside their homes.

Beyond Mandates and Masks

It’s also true that for kids attending Silver Spring daycare centers, interacting with a “faceless” world through the perspective of a mask has had its impact. Staff and peers, who previously smiled or hugged, limited those interactions. For young kids, not seeing those friendly smiles is a huge emotional burden, which takes it toll on their development.

Even the inability to share crayons in class, or restrictions on sharing toys with other kids during playtime, has stunted children’s natural tendency to be friendly and playful. The message, from parents and caregivers now is starkly different than pre-COVID times: Don’t share! And such a dramatic pivot is confusing for young minds to process.

Multiple Fronts

It’s not just the changed environment at day care in Potomac MD that’s impacting child development. On the home front too, there are events that influence a child’s mental and emotional growth. Mass unemployment, reduced hours, changing shift times, and the prevalence of hybrid work (a.k.a. “Work from Home”) have introduced new paradigms at home, that young children find difficult to adjust to.

With many home caregivers (parents, guardians) now also dividing their attention to older kids (at home due to school closures), younger children don’t get the physical and emotional attention they used to. There’s also a lot of added family stress, brought-on because of extended periods of physical proximity, and accentuated by financial stress.

And COVID-related isolations didn’t help in a child’s development either, when a parent must step away from a young child for days. For young children, growing up in these environments, it’s hard to understand why the world is behaving the way they are. And that impacts their behavior too. Psychologists and experts, however, recommend constant communication with children. Building trust and confidence in young children, through patience and perseverance, will go a long way to help them develop in this new world.

Hume Greyson
the authorHume Greyson

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