Children aged between four and 10 years old have experienced more mental health difficulties than teenagers during the lockdown, according to a new study.
More than 10,000 parents took part in the Co-SPACE (COVID-19 Supporting Parents, Adolescents, and Children in Epidemics) survey led by experts at the University of Oxford.
Many parents and carers reported that their children’s behaviour had got worse over time, with an increase in behaviours such as temper tantrums, arguments and children not doing what they are asked.
They also reported that their children showed greater levels of restlessness/fidgety behaviour and difficulties concentrating over the one-month period.
Perhaps surprisingly, the same pattern was not seen in the older age group of 11-16 year olds.
Teenagers themselves reported no change in their emotional difficulties between the two time points and their parents/carers reported that they felt that their child’s emotional difficulties had actually improved.
Neither teenagers nor their parents reported any changes in their behaviour over this time but parents felt that their children were more restless and had more difficulty concentrating over time.
‘This research suggests that many younger children have found it increasingly hard to cope as the lockdown period has gone on, which may be because of loneliness, fears about the coronavirus or a loss of the routines and support that come with school,’ said the campaigns director at YoungMinds, Tom Madders.
‘The picture appears to be more variable for older children in this study. Following the anxiety and uncertainty of going into lockdown, some are likely to have found the restrictions more difficult as time as gone on, while others – including those who feel safe and secure at home but who find school challenging – may have adapted well to their new reality. For those young people, going back to school after a long break may well be tough, and it’s vital that there’s a re-adjustment period where wellbeing is prioritised.
‘It’s also important to recognise that some of the most vulnerable young people in our society – including those who have experienced abuse, violence or neglect – are often the hardest to identify. We need to ensure that effective support is available for all children who need it now and as restrictions lift,’ added Mr Madders.
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