Retrenchments, constant anxiety, a severely wounded economy, death, loss of freedom, restrictions on all aspects of life. There is no doubt that the consequences of COVID have been extreme. However, there is one consequence not receiving quite as much attention as the others – and that is the lost innocence of our children and teens.
Forced to grow up too quickly
When you think back to your childhood, you probably remember huddling with your friends and sharing your lunch on the field at breaktime. Playing sports and playfully roughhousing. Spending time at the mall, shopping, laughing, and just enjoying life without a care in the world. Fast-forward to high school where exam stress was real, but it wasn’t further amplified by concerns about health and having to adhere to stringent restrictions.
As a direct result of COVID, the youth of today have had their care-free times snatched away and have been forced to endure the stressful times to the absolute maximum. In many ways, our children and teens have suffered a loss of innocence far too early in their lives.
Children have been forced to watch their parents suffer through job losses and trying to juggle work and home life as they’ve tried their best to adjust to remote working conditions. Understandably, parents’ tolerance and patience levels are at an all-time low, resulting in frequent outbursts, yelling, and a general sense of disconnection from their kids. After all, how can you remember to shower your children with love and attention when you have so much on your mind?
The consequences of lost innocence
Add to this having their ‘normal’ completely pulled out from under them and it is easy to see why our little ones are not so little anymore. COVID has forced children and teens to deal with grown-up problems. They are stressing about grocery bills, trying to help more with household chores, and tracking death rates. They are suffering from the same anxiety and stress as the adults, yet most do not have the means or experience to cope with it.
The saddest reality is that it is completely impossible for any parent to completely shelter their children from this storm.
So, what can you do to ease the strain on their little shoulders?
Draw from your last reserves to try to see life from their perspective. You are tired, you are scared, you are pushed to your limits. But it is important to do your best to be kind and patient with them. Encourage communication, make time for cuddles and affection, attempt to give them your undivided attention for just an hour or so every day. Prioritise both your and their mental health. Support each other.
Instead of allowing COVID to pull you apart, let it bring you closer together.
Perhaps in a sea of negativity, there is a silver lining that has come with the pandemic. The opportunity to better understand your children and to continue loving one another unconditionally every single day.
The world, and life as we know it will be forever different – and so will your kids. Use this opportunity to ensure that the changes do not break them but, instead, mould them into strong, resilient, and resourceful individuals who don’t let anything hold them back from making magic and living their dreams.