DETROIT – This period of social isolation has been hard on adults, so it should be no surprise that it’s taking a toll on children too.
Researchers surveyed nearly two thousand children in second through sixth grade both in Wuhan, China and in a city about 50 miles away.
After an average of 34 days under the lockdown, 23% of the kids reported symptoms of depression. 19% reported symptoms of anxiety.
“It’s really important for us as adults to normalize the emotional tone in the house, so that children can follow our lead and not be nervous because we are,” said Dr. Donna Rockwell, a clinical psychologist.
Dr. Rockwell says it’s important to be creative about finding projects for your children to do, and to get outside for walks, to create a new normal.
The current situation may be more difficult for children who are shy by nature or keep their feelings in.
Some red flags to watch out for include:
- Losing interest they had an interest in before
- Isolating in their room
- Having a change of mood
- Fear of being alone
If you feel your child is showing signs of depression and anxiety, reach out for help.
Rockwell says ultimately, children need to feel loved and protected.
“It’s not really what they’re going through, it’s how protected they feel as they’re going through it, and as adults we can sort of check our emotions at the door,” said Dr. Rockwell. “It’s important that we stand strong, confident, and yet truthful at an age-appropriate level with our children so that they know how to cope by watching how we cope. We will get through this together. it’s the togetherness and the connection that helps human beings survive really difficult times."
The study in China also found that children who were less optimistic about the outbreak had an increased risk of depression.. so be sure to tell your children about any positive developments in the fight.
Researchers do plan to keep following the kids in China, to track any long-term impacts.. and see how they fare as they return to school.