Adults Aren’t the Only People Dealing With this Pandemic – Kids Are Just as Impacted


Adults Aren’t the Only People Dealing With this Pandemic - Kids Are Just as Impacted

There have been tons of articles, uplifting memes, Facebook posts, and celebrity tweets praising both teachers and parents for how they’re handling distance learning amidst the Covid-19 crisis. It’s true – both groups have had their worlds turned upside down and are doing the best they can under really difficult circumstances. Teachers have had to learn a whole new skill set. Parents have taken a much bigger part in their child’s education. All of this is happening while everyone is carrying the weight of living in a pandemic. But you know who isn’t getting much media praise? Kids.

Childhood in a pandemic.

Adults aren’t the only people living in a pandemic. Kids are just as impacted. The CDC says fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can cause strong emotions in children. Check in with kids to see how they’re doing, and then really listen to their responses. Take some time to think about all the changes they’ve been handling in recent months. They’ve had big changes, challenges, losses, and stress, but they’re doing their best every day. We need to acknowledge and celebrate their resilience. They’re dealing with stressed, overwhelmed, tired adults 24/7 with little to no opportunities to go blow off steam with their friends and just be kids. Everyone is doing their best right now – kids included. 

They put up with cranky adults all day even though their worlds were turned upside down, too. 

Everything changed for kids overnight. They went home from school one day and just never went back. Children crave structure and routine. They miss their teachers, classrooms, and friends. Now they’re home all day with parents who are often grumpy and short with them. As adults, we often forget that the big things in life are happening to our kids, too. We try so hard to shelter them from stress and worry, but it seeps through. We might cry a little easier, yell a little more, stay in bed a little longer, try to stretch the milk farther. Kids don’t hold it against us and keep making us smile. They forgive us when we’re irritable and cheer us up when it all gets too heavy.

Even things that are the same are totally different for them now.

Some kids are still attending their childcare centers because their parents are essential workers, but everything is weird, scary, and different. The grownups are all wearing masks and telling them not to hug their friends all day. There’s so much handwashing and they aren’t allowed to sit close together. All the rules make it hard to play.

Other kids still see their teachers and classmates via Zoom every day. They still have virtual music classes and virtual speech therapy sessions. Homework and spelling tests have continued. But despite the teacher’s best efforts, it just isn’t close to the same.

Many teenagers became essential workers overnight. Suddenly fast food and grocery store jobs became very important. Customers started flooding it at a much higher rate than they’ve handled before. That’s a lot of pressure for a teenager to take on all of a sudden while still having school to worry about.

They’ve taken on new worries and responsibilities at home. 

Kids are supposed to be enjoying all of the fun end-of-school-year activities right now. There are supposed to be field trips, awards assemblies, and parties. Instead, they are trying to navigate schoolwork alone while their parents work from home in another room. They’re worried about their loved ones getting sick. From the tiniest tots to teens almost ready to fly the next, all kids pick up on adult stress. They worry about the virus, finances, and the future. But instead of falling apart, they’re entertaining younger siblings, trying to find ways to keep themselves from getting bored and trying to cheer everyone up with homemade cards. 

They’ve had big losses.

Kids have missed huge milestones, including prom and graduation. College tours have been canceled. Teens have lost much of the autonomy they were so proud to be developing. They aren’t able to spend time with their friends or romantic interests, which is a huge blow to most teens. Yet they’ve still stepped up in major ways. Many are working to help support the family. Others are taking care of things at home while parents work long hours. They’re helping younger siblings with school while doing their own difficult coursework (even taking AP exams). They’re doing their best to hold it all together while fearing their college plans have been wrecked. 

Younger children have missed the last month of school when most of the fun they’ve been waiting for all year happens. They won’t get to say goodbye to their teachers or friends. Many are moving up and will never get to spend a day in their school again. 

Despite all the losses, uncertainty and stress, kids have done their best to process a whole lot of really big changes and heavy information while keeping up with school and trying to be helpful at home. Take some time to celebrate the children in your life today with some (virtual) high fives and words of acknowledgment. “I know things are weird and sometimes hard right now. We all miss our friends and the way things used to be. I think you’re doing a really great job handling everything.” Then maybe add in a quick dance party for good measure. 

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Adults Aren’t the Only People Dealing With this Pandemic - Kids Are Just as Impacted

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Rachael Moshman
Rachael Moshman, M.Ed. is a mom, educator, writer, and advocate for self-confidence. She’s been a teacher in classrooms of infants through adult college students. She loves pizza, Netflix and yoga.
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