PHN Explores: “It will be alright”: Kids talk about how they cope with the pandemic (From The Kansas City Star)

PHN Content By Mat Edelson

Why You Should Care

Why is it when someone wants to know what’s going on with kids in a crisis, they always ask experts? Why not ask the children themselves? That’s why this story is so refreshing. The kids really are alright; they just need us to remind them of that, everyday.

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What's New(s)

Search “kids-coronavirus-mental health” on the internet and nearly every news story focuses on expert advice to parents for helping their youngsters cope with an incredibly unsettling time. We get it…that’s valuable information for families to have, and that’s why we’ve included links to some great advice (see ‘Related Stories‘ and ‘Bonus Bonus Biscuit‘).

Still, it’s important to listen to what children have to say before doling out a ton of advice. That’s the tack the Kansas City Star took in this story. They interviewed eight children ages 7 to 13, and, wow, do these kids get it. They’re honest with their understanding, their concerns, their sadness and joy, and, perhaps most impressively, their resilience. The video part of the story is especially moving; there’s something about seeing and hearing these kids share their insights about living through this pandemic that left us feeling hopeful and inspired.

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Story Source

Kansas City Star, May 17, 2020, by Anna Spoerre. See the story and video

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Story Expert

Jordan Booker, PhD, assistant professor, psychological sciences, and Nicole Campione-Barr, PhD, associate professor, psychological sciences, both at University of Missouri

Also…the 8 kids interviewed in the story. Because if they’re not experts on their own coronavirus experience, who is?

Bonus Biscuit

Here’s a video where The Atlantic also asked kids how they’re feeling lately. Their answers focus a bit more on their fears for themselves and their families: How kids are coping with pandemic anxiety (See the video)*

*This is a video posted by The Atlantic on YouTube that links first to an ad, but here’s a way to get right to the news story in five seconds. Start the commercial (YouTube doesn’t give you a choice) and you’ll immediately see a small insert in the lower right of the video that begins counting down from 5 to 1 and then says “skip ads.” Click that and you’ll go directly to The Atlantic’s video. Guess on YouTube there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Bonus Bonus Biscuit

As a parent, it’s one thing to listen to your kids caught up in all things corona, but quite another to offer sage advice and quell their concerns. The PBS News Hour recently featured Dr. Helen Egger, a child psychiatrist who understands both sides, as the mother of twin teenagers and chair of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine: 5 tips for talking to children about COVID-19 (See the story) *

*Speaking of sage advice one can offer kids in troubling times…Since we found this story on PBS, and PBS gave us Mr. Rogers, we wondered what he’d have to say about talking to kids during a crisis. This is a quote of his we uncovered:

“The world is not always a kind place. That’s something all children learn for themselves, whether we want them to or not, but it’s something they really need our help to understand.”

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Deep Dive

This video from Science Magazine features three psychologists discussing their work investigating the impact of coronavirus on children’s behavior: Children of the pandemic: How will kids be shaped by the coronavirus crisis? (See the video)

Anecdotally, there’s little doubt the pandemic is causing anxiety and/or depression in many kids. In China, such behavior was noted during the SARS epidemic. Recently, a research group surveyed 2,300 Chinese children in Grades 2 through 6 to see how they were faring during quarantine.

Unfortunately, the results confirmed what many parents there have seen; a good number of struggling children. The question that remains (as the researchers note) is whether they’ll be a long-lasting behavioral impact on kids even after the crisis is over. From the Journal of the American Medical Association/JAMA Pediatrics: Mental Health Status Among Children in Home Confinement During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak in Hubei Province, China (See the study)