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
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
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.