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Téma: Children and Coronavirus: the effects of the second wave

The Coronavirus is scary. This second wave is testing everyone. If in February the arrival of this new virus caught us unprepared, today (with its pros and cons) we know what we are risking to face again. This is positive, because it allows us to take action in a preventive manner. At the same time, however, it is also a limitation, as it risks activating feelings of anxiety and panic in an exasperated way. This applies to adults, but also to children. It is not possible, in fact, not to consider the relationship between children and Coronavirus: even the little ones, in fact, live this period and their emotional health deserves more than a reflection.

CHILDREN AND CORONAVIRUS: RESILIENCE IN CHILDREN
Even today it is not evident enough how the children were really good at facing a difficult period like the one just past. We asked children and teenagers to stay indoors for many weeks. We deprived them of the experience of going to school, of their social relationships, of their spaces of autonomy. We asked them for an enormous, immense effort.

We cannot think, however, that the relationship between children and Coronavirus ends here. Many parents have reported to me the difficulty of the little ones not so much during the period of the lockdown, but in the following moments. Almost as if, during the acute period of crisis, children and young people were able to find the resources to face the situation. When the tension subsided, however, the consequences that a complex situation such as that of a global pandemic can bring about began to take hold.

CHILDREN AND CORONAVIRUS: TWO CENTRAL THEMES
When it comes to children and Coronavirus, there is really a lot to say. We can already express ourselves on many aspects, while to understand the long-term consequences it will be necessary to wait some more time. The trend of the situation in the coming months will also make it possible to address further issues. To date, however, I think it may be useful to focus on two fundamental aspects.

UNCERTAINTY. In this period more than ever, the term uncertainty is central in the life of each of us, children and teenagers included. At the time of the Coronavirus, not only the future was stolen from the boys, but also the present. Research shows that these months have seen an increase in the number of anxiety symptoms in children and young people. Uncertainty, in fact, is not only referred to everyday life, but is something much deeper and broader. Something that risks significantly influencing the development of children and the definition of their identity.

THE FEAR OF THE OTHER. In a society that already teaches young people to be afraid of the Other, the arrival of the Coronavirus has amplified this concept exponentially. The use of masks and the obligation of social distancing refer to an idea of the Other as a potential enemy. The Other, therefore, is the one who can infect me and make me sick. This, of course, can amplify fears, anxieties and outright phobias in children. Being able to grasp security measures as something that can favor one's own well-being and that of others (and, not only, as protection from the Other) becomes fundamental, even if very complex.

CHILDREN AND CORONAVIRUS: HOW CAN THEY EXPRESS DISCOMFORT?
There are many ways in which children can express the suffering they are facing. In fact, every child and young person gives voice to their efforts in a different way. There are those who can recognize the malaise and put a word into it, and those who, on the other hand, try to express it in other ways. It is not easy, in fact, to put a word on what you are feeling. This applies to both adults and children as well. Often, in fact, the emotions that are being experienced happen to act. How can children express the distress they are facing?

It often happens that anxiety and agitation can be expressed with physical symptoms, such as stomach pain, headache, insomnia, lack of appetite and, conversely, uncontrolled hunger. Even nightmares can be a way of expressing pain. Sometimes, restless sleep and trouble sleeping alone express separation anxiety from the reference figures. Some children, again, may regress, implementing the behaviors and attitudes of much younger children, such as, for example, going back to bedwetting, even when sphincter control was achieved.

The complex period like the one we are living, where uncertainty is palpable on many fronts, including the ' anxiety to separate from Mom and Dad can become central. After the lockdown, even the fear of leaving the house and returning to the world and into what was no longer the known everyday life, can express the hardships of the moment. More generally, the anxiety and agitation of the period can also express themselves with one of the most ancestral fears of the human being: the fear of death.

THE SUFFERING OF CHILDREN: OTHER WAYS OF EXPRESSING DISCOMFORT
As mentioned above, there are many ways in which children can express their discomfort, even when it comes to children and Coronavirus. Some babies may show generalized nervousness and irritation, apparently not attributable to any specific reason. At times, they can get to engage in aggressive behavior towards themselves and towards others. This can manifest itself in younger children, but also in older ones.

At other times, however, children can manifest suffering with attitudes of closure in themselves, accompanied by feelings of great sadness and apathy. For example, the desire to do activities that were previously appreciated and considered very pleasant may fail. Children seem to be disinterested, down in tone and little involved in daily activities.

THE EFFECTS OF THE SECOND WAVE
Now that we are faced with what is called the "second wave", how do children and young people react? What can we say about the relationship between children and Coronavirus? Has the most critical period passed? No, in reality this is not always the case. Although children may have coped quite well with the pandemic in the first critical period, the experience cannot be undone and the emotions experienced during that period can be reactivated. Especially today when we find ourselves re-facing certain situations, such as increasingly firm restrictions, feelings of anxiety and anguish can be reactivated, because, this time, we are more aware of what we are facing.

Even the aspect of uncertainty, in this second wave, appears even stronger. "Will the schools close?", "Until when can I go to play sports?", "Can I still see my friends?" these are just some of the questions that children keep asking themselves and us adults. Faced with these questions, however, none of us have certain answers. No adults. And this can scare us first and, consequently, our children and teenagers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING TO THE EMOTIONS OF CHILDREN AND BOYS
However, at this moment, we cannot do otherwise. What we can do, however, is not to deny their emotions. Worry and fear linger in every place. Inside and outside the home it is impossible to forget what we are experiencing. The climate of tension around us is enormous. Fear is a physiological emotion. Neither good nor bad. It's an emotion, period. And, as such, we cannot control it. This means that it is completely useless, as well as counterproductive, to tell a child who shows concern not to be afraid. It can be much more useful, however, to talk about it and share your fears. Listening and welcoming the fears of children, talking about them together and legitimizing the emotion is very important.

To do this, as always, the example we give to the new generations is important. Showing oneself as a functional model of emotion management is very important. It is not always simple, but it is an excellent teaching that we can transmit to children and young people.

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