School can bring different thoughts to mind. For some, it may be a sense of relief, for others, it may be a sense of stress, or it may be a mix of thoughts and feelings. Now, let’s bring in the COVID-19 pandemic, something that opens a whole other conversation.
Regardless, it’s important to consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted children in the education system through schools and how these effects have affected others linked to the child, including but not limited to parents/caregivers, enrichment instructors, relatives, and more.
Before the Pandemic
Before the pandemic happened, there were behavioral problems seen in children of all ages and grade levels. With the pandemic, these problems have only become more apparent and jarring, severely affecting children and others involved in their lives.
For a brief background, in schools, we often see different behavioral concerns brought to attention. According to Public School Review, some common disorders affecting behavioral health include ADHD, ODD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, Learning Disorders, and Conduct Disorders. Some signs of behavioral health issues are defiance, inattention, physical aggression, blaming others, and antisocial behavior.
What’s Happening Now
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen issues with social-emotional development and behavior in students. Many of you may see these impacts in children you are around on a day-to-day basis. Some of these behaviors include trouble:
regulating their emotions
asking for help
starting and finishing tasks
taking part in challenging situations
The National Center for Public School Statistics talks about increases in student misconduct, rowdiness outside the classroom, and disrespect towards teachers and staff. The pandemic was a new experience many of us had to adjust to, which affected everyone differently. Social isolation and virtual schooling environments appear to have affected children significantly.
How Can You Help?
While these behavioral concerns seen in children in schools can be challenging to work with, there are possible ways to navigate them.
Providing students with accommodations to suit their needs can be helpful as it may help them adjust better to the school environment.
Encouraging interaction and connection in the school environment with peers can allow children to develop social skills.
Parents and caregivers, teachers, and mental health providers can collaborate to learn more about children’s mental health and how to better address it with the limitations each group may have.
Help them find creative outlets to supportive emotional expression and behavior management. This can include art, sports, instruments, and play.
While there are other ideas too, these are some to consider, keeping in mind that identifying the root cause of the behavior is important as many of these behavioral concerns can be related to underlying needs and/or underdeveloped skills in children.
Behavioral concerns seen in schools can be a sign to look beyond the surface in children. Supporting children’s mental health is important for addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting their long-term growth and development. There are many different ways to do this, and as more conversations are had about mental health, the hope is that more attention will be brought to these potential issues to help those involved in children’s lives better navigate them.