10 answers to our children’s fears

Distance learning , chat with friends, some alarming news programs overheard by adults. In the last 3 months these have been the life companions of our children, while outside the world precluded any social contact. While it is still early to define the long-term consequences of the lockdown on children and young people, it is however possible to take stock of some new fears and behaviors that, a few days after the end of the regional confinement, many parents observe at home .

 

We collected 10 questions from the mothers of the editorial staff – concerns in which we all find ourselves a bit – and asked Paolo Grampa and Marina Zanotta, psychologists of the Alice Onlus association (www.aliceonlus.org), to help us find answers.

 

  1. Now that we can go out, my 9-year-old son refuses even to go down to the yard: he says he will catch the virus and we will die. How to calm him down?

 

«A good way to help children control the fears related to resuming contact with a world that looks like it used to be, but is not, is to give them correct information. The little ones lived in a bubble, necessary and prudent, in which the domestic walls kept the danger out: returning to the world means “facing the enemy”. We remind them of the safety rules and reassure them that respecting them means keeping safe: mask, gel and distance are our superhero armor, and you can train yourself to use them first in the garden, then outside the home ».

 

  1. During these months my 3 year old son has become very aggressive. At night he dreams of losing his parents: is this a normal reaction to confinement?

 

«The prolonged duration of isolation, the lack of relationships, the presence in the home of parents not at complete disposal weigh on the level of stress, as well as on the perception of reality of the children. If to talk about trauma it is necessary to evaluate every single child, we can say that the difficulties of the sleep-wake rhythm, the relational fatigue and an irascible mood could be consequences of the condition with a strong emotional impact in which families have been immersed for months. The good news is that, as in very stressful situations, with the return to an ordinary daily life, parents will be able to slowly accompany their children to recover their balance, performing functions of listening, support and emotional containment ».

 

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  1. I am smart working and my 5 year old son as soon as I turn on the computer attracts attention in every way and disturbs me. It is as if he hated seeing me “present but absent”.

 

“For such young children it is really difficult to understand the meaning of smart working, in their eyes we are just” grown-ups “who prefer to spend hours in front of a screen rather than rolling around on the ground and playing with them: they feel diminished and overshadowed slowly, especially since parents were often the only playmates available for months. Tolerating the fact that mom or dad are physically there, but that they don’t want (in their eyes) or can (in reality) devote themselves to them moves anger and frustration and generates the need to draw attention by disturbing. Children can be proposed to build a small co-working space where mom or dad are at the computer and the child builds, plays, draws.

 

  1. My 6-year-old has always been a I-write-crop type child, now she’s totally listless. Primary school will start in September: do I have to worry?

 

«Many students will find themselves starting school in September with some difficulties linked to the months of limited activity. What is up to parents in this historical moment, however, is not to look for a solution to the difficulties at school: the teachers will take care of those, adapting teaching and finding ad hoc pedagogical strategies. Dads and mothers should guide their children in the search for a possible meaning of their listlessness, analyzing together the changes that have seen them as protagonists, so as to metabolize them together “.

 

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  1. I worked hard to get my 4-year-old son to accept the mask, but when we are out he sees so many children without and feels unfairly punished.

 

«In Italy, the obligation to wear a mask starts at the age of 6, because it is complex to be able to make a child under that age responsible for using this device. However, if the parents’ choice is to use it anyway, one must equip oneself to be able to face situations in which the rules of one’s family differ from others. Like all choices, this too must not be limited to being an imposition as an end in itself but must be motivated with simple, clear and age-appropriate words ».

 

  1. My “girlfriend” is in eighth grade and is anxious because she does not know if she will start high school in class or from home.

 

«The transition between middle school and high school is the first real exam to be faced: there are friends to greet, the new universe to meet. Today’s pre-adolescents are unfortunately living it in an extremely restricted way and the lack of certain information prevents the ability to project themselves into the future and imagine themselves facing the first big leap. To help the children it takes a lot of delicacy, because the transition to high school indicates the entrance into adolescence and there the parents are not the favorite travel companions: you need to know how to listen to concerns and fantasies by offering correct information on the school destiny that will await them and invite them to participate as actively as possible in any type of teaching will be presented “.

 

  1. My 15-year-old son’s room has become a bunker: first virtual lessons, now chat and Playstation until night. How to bring the rhythms back to normal and get it out more?

 

“This quarantine has allowed us to better understand the world of adolescence. The very young showed how much their way of living the virtual as a place of learning, meeting and play is much more spontaneous and healthy than other age groups. The effort in going back out should be read as the presence of a possible concern for the future, of questions like: “Will I be able to make friends again? What if we get sick? ”. Every parent should try to raise these doubts and talk about them. “

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