The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been the source of much change over the past year and a half. Instead of being able to act as social human beings and talk with others in an in-person setting, we were relegated to our homes as we worked to combat the deadly virus.
This change from social freedom to a less extreme form of solitary confinement had profound implications on human behavior for both children and adults. Both experienced and new parents alike have largely discovered that raising kids during a pandemic is a whole new challenge.
Stressful, life-altering situations can be even more overwhelming for children; unfortunately, this reality also means that many children have experienced behavioral changes throughout the course of the pandemic. Such a phenomenon is a cause for alarm for many parents.
Potential Reasons for Behavioral Changes
1: Physical Activity
While confined to our homes and not able to travel, the vast majority of individuals have found it difficult to keep up with the recommended amount of physical activity.
Physical activity is not only limited to the time you spend actively participating in exercise, but also includes the amount of time you spend walking and moving around as you do things like go to work, go to the grocery store, or go shopping.
Widespread closures of office spaces, restaurants, and gyms left people with fewer options for getting their exercise in. And, in many cases, people did not engage in as much physical activity even when they were active.
Adequate levels of physical activity have been shown to correlate with better mental health. Therefore, for many people – including children – not getting enough physical activity means that mental health may begin to suffer.
Mental health challenges can undoubtedly lead to noticeable, and sometimes concerning, behavioral differences.
2: Changing Sleep Patterns
The pandemic has also impacted sleep cycles. Increased levels of anxiety make it harder for both children and adults to sleep and feel like themselves.
Additionally, more and more of the population has been forced to adjust to new routines that impact how and when we sleep.
For children, sleep is extremely important for growth and fortification of strong mental processing. Without sleep, children’s behavior can change dramatically and their mental fitness may decline.
3: Financial Stress
Economic insecurity can be felt by children, especially older children who are more cognizant of the role finances play in their family’s lives.
When economic insecurity threatens a family, there is a higher likelihood for adults and older children (teenagers) to increase their consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. These substances alter behavior and may cause addiction.
4: Weight Changes
Weight gain in children can certainly result from lack of physical activity, increased food consumption, and decreased quality of food choices. This weight gain can result in decreased self-esteem, feelings of anxiety, depressive behavior, and sluggish behavior.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been trying for nearly everyone, but it’s crucial to remember that children can also feel the same stress adults do. Understanding why a child’s behavior may change is helpful, but seeking out professional care and mental health resources – like those over at BetterHelp – can go a step further and help your child become the best version of themselves.
No matter the cause for your child’s behavioral changes, seeking out the care of a mental health professional can significantly improve their livelihood and wellbeing.