DENVER — Child psychologist Dr. Sheryl Ziegler said “it’s not an overstatement to say that we are in a mental health crisis.” That statement probably isn’t a surprise to anyone.
The last year has been tough on everyone, including children.
“They're trying to figure out their feelings, their emotions, there's so much isolation, Ziegler said, adding that this has led to increases in depression and anxiety.
Ziegler said three different things are happening with our kids’ development during the pandemic, especially when it comes to relationships.
She said the first area is social, and the difficulties that have arisen from trying to interact with their peers online. The second is physical.
“So many kids are used to doing organized activity in sports … even literally walking the hallways of school … even PE,” Ziegler said. “They are missing that so much, so what happens is things perpetuate themselves.
“Parents are reporting lack of motivation, and that starts really young.”
Ziegler said the third area where she’s seeing kids struggling involves academics, especially among children with special needs.
A mom in the 9NEWS It Takes a Village Facebook page had a similar sentiment:
“My son is two and half and he has had a speech delay. We currently do speech therapy virtually (which is also hard). I’m sure if we were able to do activities at libraries/rec centers it would really help him.”
Activities have been so limited this last year and the ones that continued did so virtually. That has and will continue to play a big role in how our kids learn to interact with one another.
“If you think about childhood, so much of the bonds and socialization and the rules of life that they learn are learned through play, they're not learned through talking,” Ziegler said. “Now we're demanding that kids anywhere from preschool to high school are relying so much on verbalization and that's just not typical development. There's going to be a time where it's time to go back outside and play and do those things and I'll tell you I think it's going to be a struggle.
“I equate it in some ways to almost the first day of kindergarten where it’s like you have so much angst and so much excitement and so much uncertainty. I think it's going to be like that for millions of kids and even parents probably to try to reintegrate with 'who am I friends with and who am I not’ and 'how much have you changed.'”
It’s not all bad though, Ziegler said.
“I would say by and large I hear most parents say that they really appreciated the time together,” she added.
And while it might seem hard to believe now, Ziegler said it’s possible there could be some pandemic nostalgia in the future.
“I think everyone will welcome the new normal and will look back at some point, even the moms or dads that are stressed out or feel really tired, they may look back and have some nostalgia for this,” Ziegler said.
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