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The Covid-19 pandemic has caused widespread anxiety for people of all ages and with varied experiences, not least parents who are worried about the impact on their children.
Amongst them is Telegraph senior video producer Jack Leather who has three children under five.
Away from their school and childminder, the two eldest have had their routine severely disrupted and ‘the virus’ is a frequent topic of conversation.
“The situation has heightened anxiety for children,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England.
“They might have felt anxious about their own health, their family’s health, their grandparents’ health. But also the fact that their whole routine has been altered.”
She added: “Childline has had a real upturn in calls and what they say is that the majority of those are Covid-related.”
Some teenagers will return to school “traumatised”, warned Alicia Drummond, founder of Teen Tips.
She also said Covid-related anxiety risked becoming “hardwired” in their brains, which could cause long-term mental health problems.
“The thing about adolescents is that it’s a big period of cognitive restructuring anyway and what we don’t want is for those patterns of anxiety to become hardwired because we already know that a lot of the long-term adult mental health problems start in childhood and adolescence,” she added.
The advice for parents of younger children is to encourage conversations about the pandemic.
“It’s really important that we hear from them about their understanding of what’s going on so we can help dispel any myths that they may have,” said child psychologist Dr Kate Mason.
“They might come out with a completely different understanding and it might be beautifully naive and that’s OK if that’s what they understand and they’re happy and content with that.
“[But] if there’s anything in their narrative that could warrant worry further down the line, it gives the parent the opportunity to re-frame it for them.”
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