It’s natural and expected for children to experience anxiety around the transitions of the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic has presented countless challenges to children from an academic, social and mental health perspective. But the shift back into more “normal” ways of life can also be difficult for kids.
Of course, we’re not exactly in a post-pandemic world (especially for children younger than 12 who have yet to gain access to any COVID-19 vaccines) as concerns rise about case counts and highly contagious variants. But there’s no doubt things seem different this summer, with camp, travel and back-to-school preparations in full swing. And even these positive changes can be challenging and anxiety-provoking.
“Children thrive with consistency, and consistency has gone out of the window over the past year,” licensed clinical social worker Nidhi Tewari told HuffPost. “Many kids became accustomed to attending virtual school and limiting in-person contact, so it’s understandable that there may be increases in anxiety as we ‘return to normal.’”
And in the midst of this new transition, children (like adults) are also still processing the trauma of the past year and a half.
“After any disaster or traumatic experience, while the wish and hope is for a rapid return to ‘normal,’ the psychological and emotional aftermath greatly exceeds the more defined boundaries of the trauma itself,” said Dr. Ilisse Perlmutter , director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Talkiatry in New York City. “Children’s reactions may appear immediately… or may not appear for days, weeks, even years. We also need to remember that innumerable children and adolescents lost parents, grandparents and other loved ones during this pandemic. The resulting grief and anxiety can take many forms, and recovery, or moving forward from these losses, is not necessarily correlated with a return to life as it was before.”
If we’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that “normal” is relative.
″‘Normal,’ looked at neurologically and behaviorally, is what we have experienced for the past couple of months (on a rolling basis),” said psychotherapist Noel McDermott . “We normalize as we go along, so normal is not what happened 18 months ago pre-pandemic. Normal is the last three months generally. So currently we are not transitioning back to normal; we are transitioning out of the normal we have been in for the last few months into a new normal. Transitions of our life circumstances are always potentially anxiety-provoking.”
Signs of reemergence anxiety will vary depending on the child’s personality, but parents and other trusted adults can look for shifts in behavior as indications of potential anxiety. But what kinds of behaviors should they look out for? Below, Tewari, Perlmutter, McDermott and other experts share some expected signs of “post-pandemic” […]