Children and Lockdown

Research has found that children have brought the virus, social distancing and lockdown restrictions into playtime, including references to death, handwashing or pretending to be ‘the coronavirus’ in chase games. Children between the age of four and five generally understand and have practised social distancing, while very few one and two-year-old understand the concepts.

One parent reported that a nine-year-old created a LEGO hospital with patients, a ventilator and a test centre. During school attendance in Term 2, many teachers and parents said that children were pretending to be ‘the Coronavirus’ in chase games. Another parent observed of her daughter: “Her Sims world features social distancing and extra hygiene equipment."

Death has also become a feature of playtime and studies have reported children “playing dead, playing doctors, pretend washing hands and pretending they were a teacher enforcing social distancing” and another observing how their daughter “pretends she has the virus and that there is more death among her play figures.”

The inclusion of the virus and restrictions in many types of children’s play shows their awareness of the crisis. This is a very natural thing for children to do as children make sense of their world through their play and it helps them understand what is going on around them. 

There have also been many positive impacts on children reported by parents. Some parents reported their children being more content due to the lack of excessive scheduled activities and the opportunities available for free play, while almost all children have spent more time playing outdoors. Breaks in learning, daily exercise and outside play are essential for healthy lockdown survival. 

Children miss playing with their friends due to COVID-19 restrictions, and many (most?) children are spending more time on-screen activities, like TV, tablets, or iPads (my thoughts on unsupervised unrestricted screen time are well known.) Supervised social media through video applications such as Zoom, FaceTime and Skype can be very healthy BUT they MUST be supervised.

Please refer to the Emerging Minds website for excellent resources for families and children across many topics:

Mr Alan Clarke

Paediatric Psychologist