What is Normal? How should my kids be handling their emotions during this pandemic?

As my kids prepare to enter yet another transition – this one to summer vacation – I can’t help but reflect on the past 7 weeks of distance learning. From the start, I was constantly checking in with them to see how they were mentally holding up. “Do you miss school? Do you miss your teachers and friends? Are you sad {XYZ activity} is canceled?”

Some parents reported their kids were very emotional and grieving the loss of school and friendships when the covid-19 pandemic struck. I remember how choked up I felt was when I told the boys the news that they would be starting distance learning. I also recall seeing one of their principals at school during material pick up, and suddenly I didn’t know how I should be feeling.

The truth is, our kids haven’t shown extreme sadness or disappointment about any of the major changes in their lives these past few months.

Sports seasons completely canceled. Family vacation plans abandoned. No hanging out with friends or family. The boys just roll with it.

They tell me they miss seeing their friends in person, and miss classes that are more fun in person like science. They acknowledge these major changes to their lives but have been able to move forward. They get to ‘see’ their friends on group meetings, and that’s all they need for now.

I found myself wondering if it was normal for our kids to not show more signs of grief. Shouldn’t they be more impacted by the gravity of the situation??  I offered to set up video chats with their friends, even hosted a couple class chats. My boys wanted to go play instead. As a parent, you think about what this period of isolation is doing to their social skills, to their friendships. They all enjoy school, and get along with others. They don’t have a reason to not like school. But then I think about all the reasons why they have embraced this new normal with good grace:

  • They have each other – They have always been good playmates. Do they fight with and annoy each other? Absolutely. (How many times can one be uninvited from a birthday party?? Just asking for a friend!) They play with each other all.day.long. We are so thankful that they have each other not only as brothers, but as friends.
  • They can work at their pace – The boys would rather do school, well, at school. However, an unexpected benefit of distance learning is that they can work at their own pace. I’m embarrassed to admit that these last few days, the boys have started with schoolwork before we are even out of bed.
  • Temperament – I’m learning that how the boys cope has a lot to do with their temperament. Perhaps you’ve noticed this in your own self as well, I certainly have. Maybe it can be a good thing that they don’t dwell on what I perceive they have lost, but focus more on the here and now, and how to continue moving forward. Adaptability and flexibility are good things.
  • Strong teacher support – Thank goodness for the foundation our teachers have provided. My kids’ trust in their teachers has helped them adapt and normalize our current situation. They do a terrific job providing students a sense of security. Those familiar faces and voices go so far.
  • Stay at home support – As a stay at home mom, the boys have me available to them all day. This has greatly reduced added stress on our family members.

I reached out to one of our school social workers, as well as my psychologist friend, Carrie. The advice I’ve been given is that there is no “normal” reaction for something like this. Some kids are thriving doing distance learning. Some kids are immersing themselves in pandemic coverage, at an almost unhealthy level. Others are still processing their grief. Wherever your child is at, give them the social and emotional support they need. It will look different for each family, and for each child.

The effects of isolation will impact everyone in a unique manner. I hope schools are equipped to transition students back to school this fall not only physically (whatever that looks like), but mentally as well. I can’t imagine what type of planning and extra support will be needed when students are able to be together again.

The boys absolutely love playing Legos.

I feel thankful the boys are at the ages they are now during this pandemic (7, 9, 11). They’ve made parenting in a pandemic easier for us both. Pretty good rule followers, they comply when we say we need to social distance, or why we can’t get together with family the way we use to. They’re not asking to leave the house to go hang out with friends. They still think we are cool and want to hang with us. If there’s one thing this time together has taught me about my kids, is that they are pretty neat and I want to hang with them, too. Their positive outlook and resilience is a good lesson for us all.

The Eden Prairie school district has put together a list of family resources available to you: https://www.edenpr.org/community/i-need-family-resources

About / Contact
Carolyn Wieland

Share this post:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

2 thoughts on “Kids and COVID

  1. Thanks Carolyn, found your blog on the ZWC FB page. I feel like my kids had much the same reaction to distance learning, and it’s good to know that other families’ experiences were similarly positive. I don’t have to worry too much that a few months of isolation will scar them for life!

    1. I’m glad to hear your kids have had a positive experience with distance learning and the impact of covid-19 . Hopefully your summer will be a good one!

Leave a Reply

Other posts you may enjoy: