‘They gained’t neglect this’: Mother involved about kids’s psychological well being after COVID-19 pandemic – Winnipeg

Trisha Blair’s one and five year olds spend most of their time in the backyard.

There’s a blue children’s pool with a little red slide on the side, a blackboard with a stick figure sketched in white, and two empty children’s lounge chairs.

That’s where they spent most of the time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My kids aren’t really interested in virtual game dates,” Blair said.

While she’s glad her kids don’t want to be on an iPad or computer, she said it’s worrying that her kids don’t have a social circle, especially since they don’t go to daycare.

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She said she already saw differences in her one-year-old daughter who her five-year-old son failed to portray, which Blair fears about her lack of socialization in early life.

“She mostly plays alone,” said Blair. “She’s very kind, but it’s not the same.”

Although day camps are open for a maximum of 20 children and activities such as dance classes are again available with limited capacity, Blair said it was too late.

After months of restrictions, she believes the effects have already left their mark on children across the province and worries if some of them will be long-term.

It is a matter of concern to pediatrician Dr. Chris Hohl said it won’t be known for years.

“Younger children who have grown up with everyone wearing masks and being socialized and not visiting extended families and playgroups – what effects will that have on their development?” Said Hohl. “If you went through this when you were one and two years old, what will you be like as three, four, and five year olds?”

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Hohl said the ongoing effects will be different for each child and age group, but believes that most children will get back on their feet.

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The doctor, who works at Winnipeg Children’s Hospital and owns his own clinic, said he saw a number of concerns walk through his door, including eating disorders, children with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, insomnia and difficulty concentrating, and many more things.

“It’s so non-specific, but then it’s also very difficult to diagnose because it’s so non-specific,” said the doctor. “All of these things can indicate some of the effects children are going through not only with COVID, but with the changes COVID has had on our societies and in our families.”

Having not yet been through something like the COVID-19 pandemic, Hohl said that Blair and many other parents of his patients’ concerns are all legitimate, with big questions but limited answers.

If parents come to him concerned that their child will feel the effects of the pandemic, his suggestions will largely depend on the patient’s age and how much they know about the pandemic.

“Since the guidelines allow us to open more gatherings and activities, it is probably the best way to get children back into this game and activities,” said Hohl.

However, Hohl said that there is no other good answer than to support their children and watch out for their symptoms while trying to calm them down.

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He adds that you should be aware of your own emotions to ensure that your own feelings of stress or anxiety are not transmitted to your children when you cater to their needs.

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Hohl appreciates the resilience of children and notes that he has seen children become extremely sick and still find ways to “recover”, sometimes better than adults.

Some take longer to recover than others, the doctor warns, and that’s fine.

“Children who need a little more time to recover, I don’t think it’s a knock on them or a sign that they are weaker or less fit,” said Hohl.

For children who are having trouble while things are slowly returning to normal in Manitoba, play therapy and psychological help might be useful, but expecting your child to get back to what they were before could be more stressful.

Blair is confident that her children will be fine, but she fears for every child in the community who may not get the help they need.

“Kids won’t forget that,” Blair said, wiping his eyes. “How they were treated, how they were forgotten.”

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