Brit parents fear Covid lockdowns have led to mental health problems for kids

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More than half of parents feel the Covid-19 threat and subsequent lockdowns have had a detrimental effect on their children's mental well-being, according to new research.

Four in 10 believe their kids have experienced a heightened sense of anxiety since the outbreak.

And a third have seen a lack of energy and enthusiasm, with one in five, admitting their young ones are no longer sleeping well.

Perhaps most worryingly, a quarter of adults said they would be unable to identify if their child was struggling with mental health.

Top TV child psychologist Dr Sam Wass has offered coping tips to enable parents to help their offspring through the troubling times.

Almost half (48 per cent) of the 1,000 parents, of four-12-year-olds who took part in the research, said they felt that Covid-19 had also "negatively impacted" on their children's friendships.

This was echoed in a parallel study of 500 children aged six-10.

When asked what they missed most through lockdown, more than 60 per cent said their friends, followed by grandparents (45 per cent) and going to school as normal (38 per cent).

The research was commissioned by Tangle Teezer, which is working with child psychologist Dr Sam Wass, on a campaign to help parents get their children to open up during haircare time.

Dr Wass, from the award-winning Channel 4 series 'The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds', said: "The last few months have been a massively stressful time for everyone.

"But for children, who tend to live much more 'in the moment', and who often understand little about why these new rules are being imposed, it has been a particularly tough few months.

"Children are always better at understanding how another child feels, as their perspective on life is more similar.

"But many children aren't getting as much access as normal to their friends at the moment, which makes things even harder.

"It's natural that we as parents want to support our children through this difficult period.

"But getting them to open up can be hard. We have to play so many different roles as parents"And it's very easy to get stuck in one role – which can make it hard to shift gear into situations where we just want to provide emotional support."

The prospect of family or friends succumbing to the virus was the biggest worry for children, aged between six and 10, this year (46 per cent), followed by grandparents being lonely (31 per cent).

An overwhelming 71 per cent of children said their parents or guardians had talked to them about coronavirus as much as they would have liked.

Another 73 per cent felt they themselves had talked about general things as much as they would have liked, but there was a markedly different response from parents on the same issue.

Almost half (45 per cent) of the parents surveyed said that they generally found it easier to give their child access to technology instead of talking to them at the end of a school day.

And only 23 per cent of respondents said they felt they talked to their child "more than average".

Dr Wass has provided the following tips for 'detangling the day' with children, which include:

Face-to-face isn't always best – a lot of the best, most relaxed conversations happen while you're both facing forwards

Physical touch is relaxing – like touching on the head, which is a particularly trusting form of touch

Make it feel like their treat time – encouraging a child to open up to you is about making them feel in control

Start with some of their favourite topics – if you've a particular question that you want to ask, don't come straight to it

Use open-ended questions, and be patient – avoid questions with a yes/no answer, but aim instead for open-ended questions – that start with how/what/where/when/how

Summarise, and reflect – once they've started to talk, then a good tactic is to summarise what they've said

Don't deny their feelings, and don't try to 'fix' things – it's tempting, particularly with our children, to tell them what they should (or shouldn't) be feeling – or try to fix their problems

Show your vulnerable side – we're used to being the strong ones – but it can help to say that you're having a difficult time too

Jacqui Ripley, director of brand communications at Tangle Teezer, said: "Children are having to worry about a lot of grown-up things at the moment and conversation always helps.

"We wanted to carve out a time in the day dedicated to children taking the floor and voicing their concerns, and what better time than having your hair brushed."

You can find the full list of Dr Wass's tips here.

  • Channel 4
  • Family

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