‘They won’t forget it’: Mom worries about children’s mental health after COVID-19 pandemic – Winnipeg



Trisha Blair’s one-year-old and five-year-olds spend most of their time in the backyard.

There is a blue children’s pool with a small red slide on the side, a board with a white sketched stick figure, and two empty children’s lawn chairs.

This is where they spent the majority of their time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My kids aren’t really interested in any kind of virtual dating,” Blair said.

While she’s happy that her kids don’t want to be on an iPad or computer, she said it was concerning that her kids don’t have a social circle, especially since they don’t go to preschool.

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She said she already saw differences in her one-year-old daughter that her five-year-old did not represent, which Blair says is due to her lack of socialization early in her life.

“She mostly plays on her own,” said Blair. “She’s very nice, but it’s not the same.

Although day camps are open with a maximum of 20 children and activities like dance lessons are also returning with limited capacity, Blair said it was too late.

After months of restrictions, she believes the impacts have already left their mark on children across the province and worries if some of them will be long term.

This is a concern according to pediatrician Dr Chris Hohl that will not be known for years.

“Young children who have grown up with everyone wearing masks and socializing and not visiting extended family and playgroups – what kind of effects is this going to have on their development? Hohl said. “If they went through this when they were one and two, what will they be like at three, four and five? “

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Hohl said the lasting effects would vary for each child and age group, but believes most children will bounce back.

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The doctor, who works at the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital and has his own clinic, said he has seen a range of problems come through his door, including eating disorders, children with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and difficulty concentrating, among others. things.

“It’s so nonspecific, but it’s also very difficult to diagnose because it’s so nonspecific,” the doctor said. “All of these things may be signs of some of the effects children are experiencing not only with COVID, but with the changes COVID has had in our society and in our families.”

Never having gone through anything like the COVID-19 pandemic before, Hohl said the concerns of Blair and many other relatives of his patients are all valid and come with some great questions, but limited answers.

When parents come to him with concern that their child will feel the effects of the pandemic, Hohl said his suggestions largely depend on the patient’s age and what he knows about the pandemic.

“As the guidelines allow us to have more gatherings and activities starting to open up, starting to re-engage kids in this game and those activities is probably the best way forward,” Hohl said.

However, Hohl said there was no answer other than supporting their children and being attentive to their symptoms while trying to reassure them.

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He adds that being aware of your own emotions will also go a long way in ensuring that your own feelings of stress or anxiety are not transferred to your children in the way you meet their needs.

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Hohl acknowledges how resilient children are, noting that he has seen children become extremely sick and always find ways to “bounce back”, sometimes better than adults.

Some will take longer to recover than others, the doctor warns, and that’s okay.

“Kids who take a little longer to bounce back, I don’t think that’s a hit on them or a sign that they’re weaker or less behind,” Hohl said.

For children struggling as things slowly return to normal in Manitoba, Hohl said play therapy and counseling could be helpful, but expect your child to be like they were, instantly. , could induce more stress.

Blair is confident her children will be fine, but said she fears for any children in the community who might not be able to get the help they need.

“The kids aren’t going to forget this,” Blair said, wiping his eyes. “How they were treated, how they were forgotten.”

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