By; With infection rates steadily declining, our society is transitioning toward post-Covid normalcy. For many children and adolescents, the return to a semblance of pre-pandemic times is wholly welcomed as they integrate back into school, hobbies, and social gatherings. But for some, moving forward from the pandemic era is not so easily embraced.
Studies have suggested that students lost up to 35% of a typical year’s learning during virtual schooling. As children and adolescents return to in-person learning, they may struggle with overcoming learning loss on top of the increased academic standards that were absent during virtual learning. Our practice is seeing that, for some children, this learning loss persists even after reintegration into the classroom, warranting evaluations to ascertain an appropriate remediation and support plan. Therapy has also targeted the impact of learning loss on self-esteem and related strategies for how parents can best support their children.
For children and adolescents who experience social anxiety, quarantining within their safe spaces also provided a welcomed reprieve. For these individuals, reintegrating into life revokes the comfort that Covid restrictions once provided. Consequently, some children and adolescents are exhibiting more instances of school refusal. Parenting and behavioral exposure strategies have been among the forefront of interventions to challenge children and adolescents to confront the scenarios that they have been able to opt out of in the prior year. Individuals with attentional and/or behavioral regulation difficulties are also prone to a steeper adjustment curve as they return to school. For some, being in a virtual setting allowed for fewer demands on sustaining attention and regulating behavior. For these children and adolescents, therapeutic intervention has been centered around further developing and practicing these out of shape executive functioning skills.
Additionally, while some children and adolescents welcomed the mandated time at home, others were faced with new challenges resulting from prolonged togetherness. A snapshot into some homes showed families completing jigsaw puzzles and adopting new hobbies; whereas other families experienced an uptick of conflict amid the lack of structure and psychosocial support. Some families continue to cope with the impact of pandemic related stress that permeated parent-child and spousal relationships.
While some individuals regard the post-Covid era as a welcomed return to normalcy, it is important to acknowledge that this may not be the case for everyone. Our practice recognizes the nuanced impact that the pandemic has on individuals and families and tailors treatment plans to fit each individual and family’s specific needs.
By: Elizabeth Clark, PhD