How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the relationships of children and adolescents?


Many changes have derived from the COVID -19 pandemic and one of these is the disruption of social relationships. One study published in the International Journal of

Environmental Research and Public Health, leadership by the Salima Meherali of the

Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, said; “It is already

evident that the direct and indirect psychological and social effects of the COVID-19

pandemic are insidious and affect the mental health of young children and adolescents now and will in the future.”


Impact of the pandemic on children's and adolescent's mental health


The COVID-19 pandemic's physical restrictions and social distancing measures have

affected each and every domain of life.


Although the number of children and adolescents affected by the disease is small,

the disease and the containment measures such as social distancing, schools

closure, and isolation, have negatively impacted the mental health and well-being of

children and adolescents.


Schools have been closed, and most extracurricular activities for children and adolescents that typically occur outside the home and in group settings have been cancelled. Children and adolescents are experiencing a prolonged state of physical

isolation from their peers, teachers, extended family, and community networks.


Social distancing and school closures have increased the mental health problems of

children and adolescents, who are already at higher risk for developing mental

health problems compared to adults. These mental struggles that the youth

experience is happening at a time when they are also experiencing anxiety over a

health threat and threats to family employment/income.


Studies have confirmed that children and adolescents are more likely to experience

high rates of depression and anxiety during and after a pandemic.


These studies reported that pandemics cause stress, worry, helplessness, and social

and risky behavioural problems among children and adolescents (e.g., substance

abuse, suicide, relationship problems, academic issues, and absenteeism from

work).


The responses of children and adolescents to a crisis situation depend upon their

prior exposure to emergency situations, physical and mental health issues, the

socioeconomic circumstances of the family, and their cultural background.


Crisis events negatively impact the psychological well-being of children and

adolescents. A recent study that Jiao et al. (2020) conducted in China screened

children and adolescents for behavioral and emotional distress due to the COVID-19

pandemic. Anxiety, depression, distraction, irritability, and the fear that family

members would contract the deadly disease were the most common problems that

they identified.


Effectiveness of different interventions employed during previous and the

current pandemic to promote children's and adolescents' mental health


Interventions such as art-based programs, support services, and clinician-led mental

health and psychosocial services effectively decrease mental health issues among

children and adolescents.


Supportive parental emotion socialization predicted adaptive emotion regulation


A recent study appeared in September 2021 in the Journal of research on

adolescence about Parental emotion socialization (PES) this article includes the

different ways through which parents express their emotional experiences and

respond to their children’s emotional expressions. Empirical research supports the

presence of different strategies that parents may use to influence how their children

experience emotions and deal with them. Furthermore, empirical evidence supports

the significant effect of PES in explaining children’s emotion regulation and social

competence. As stated, “parents who respond to their children's emotional expressions with behavioural reactions and negative emotions lead to negative emotionality of children and low social competence”.


In conclusion, the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of children and adolescents is of great concern. Anxiety, depression, disturbances in sleep and appetite, as well as impairment in social interactions are the most common presentations. It has been indicated that compared to adults, this pandemic may continue to have increased long-term adverse consequences on children's and adolescents' mental health and subsequently on their ability to foster relationships.