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The fears of five-year-olds: how young children cope with Covid anxiety

Dr Polly Waite talks with the Guardian about age related differences in how children have coped with the pandemic:

The effect of the pandemic on younger children has not been researched to the same degree as older children. One key study, however, has been the Co-Space study, a UK-based longitudinal survey of parents and carers that has been running since the fifth day of the UK’s first national lockdown in March 2020. According to Dr Polly Waite from the University of Oxford, who led the study alongside Prof Cathy Cresswell, there was a “really striking” difference in how the pandemic affected the mental health of children aged four to 10, compared with 11- to 16-year-olds.

“The 11- to 16-year-olds with their own phones were able to interact with their peer group,” Waite says. “The younger ones who would normally be running around in the playground with their friends were isolated from their peer group, with parents who were feeling understandably really stressed during that period.”

More than 60% of parents in the Co-Space study reported they did not feel able to meet the needs of both their children and their work. Parental stress was particularly high in single-adult households, among low-income families and where children had special educational needs or neuro-developmental disorders. “Most parents,” Waite says, “were not their best parenting selves during the pandemic.”

Read the full article here.