OHIO — With the increased time spent at home because of the pandemic and the continuation of virtual learning, some psychologists are saying children may have a harder time adjusting back to normal life, whenever that time comes.
“We suspect that following this pandemic period, there might be a variety of responses that children might experience following all of this time off. And one of those might certainly be hesitation or some separation anxiety from separating from caregivers,” said Dr. Samanta Boddapati, a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
A fellow pediatric psychologist, Dr. Carolyn Ievers-Landis from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, said she's already been seeing this behavior.
“I have seen that in some of my patients that some children that have been with parents from March till now, so that's six months, might find it hard when they are transitioning back to being away from parents,” said Ievers-Landis.
But Iveres-Landis said we won’t see this behavior in all children.
“But I think what's most important to remember is that this just doesn't spring out of nowhere. So the children that are doing this have kind of had that predilection, or they've been like that before. They've had that predisposition to be a little anxious or have some separation anxiety in the past. It's not usual that kids that separated bond before it was no problem, all of a sudden develop attachment concerns,” said Ievers-Landis.
So how do you know if your child is prone to developing attachment issues? Boddapati said to watch for unusual behaviors.
“They may see their child becoming more clingy. They might see tearfulness or tantrums or hesitation to interact in spaces that their parent or their caregiver might not be. And again, with younger children, we're going to see this come out a little bit more behaviorally because they might not always have the words to express their emotions,” said Boddapati.
These psychologists said there are a number of things parents can do to ease attachment concerns:
- Talk with your child about where their hesitation is coming from
- Create times when you have to be away from your child, like running errands
- Remind the child of things they can look forward to that doesn't involve being in the home around parents
- Develop a goodbye and welcome routine that includes something special with the parent, like a handshake that the child can look forward to during the day
- Make sure your emotions remain neutral when saying goodbye to your child
“What we really want is healthy attachment. We don't want to have an insecure attachment, and we want kids to be able to be away from the parent for a little bit and then enjoy being back with them again,” said Ievers-Landis.
These psychologists say if you have any questions or concerns to contact your pediciatrian.