After a long 14 months, our 1.5-year-old was finally reunited with her 2-year-old cousin at a backyard barbecue. We’ve all been anxious for these close-in-age cousins to play and develop the strong bond that we all desire. Ah the big moment! The parents and grandparents circled in anticipation as they approached each other. They stared at each other for a few seconds, seemingly confused, then ran in opposite directions. “Covid babies” we all said to each other and shrugged.
I met with Michelle Clarke, Family Nurse Practitioner and Certified Pediatric Nurse to ask her the questions on the top of my mind about expectations re-emerging post covid, how to handle conversations with our kids and how to mentally prepare ourselves for yet another transition. Michelle provides informed, logical guidance from a relatable perspective that you will surely make you think.
How to mentally prepare yourself and your children for another transition
A video interview recap
Michelle Clarke is a Family Nurse Practitioner and Certified Pediatric Nurse serving families with young children at Davis Square Family Practice. Michelle leads the practice's Fourth Trimester Care service at Davis Square Family - care at home for newborns and mothers for the first 2 months of life. It is an amazing opportunity to see the home environment and allow for more supportive care of the family. It embodies the philosophy of family medicine which is to look at the family and individuals as a unit which impacts the health of each member.
Rayz Kidz is the app for high quality childcare. The app makes it easy for caregivers to facilitate fun, educational activities, to keep families updated in real time on events of the day and to safely store and share those precious memories of your kids. Check out our features and more resources!
Re-emerging post covid with kids
Our Covid Babies
Many, now toddlers, have spent the majority of their lives in lockdown. During this significant period of their lives, they have rarely seen life outside of their own homes, have barely socialized with other children, have rarely seen adults outside of their households and have only seen strangers with masks covering their faces. We know there are many side-effects of the covid lockdown on children, but are these covid babies-turned-toddlers of concern?
Fortunately, the experts say no, for the young ones, the lockdown will not have a significant impact on their social development. It turns out, before the age of two, most socialization occurs at home anyway, so they were right where they needed to be. Socialization at this young age mostly occurs with adults through being held and hugged, eye-contact, and time spent playing and reading together. Any play with other children at this age would be parallel play, not yet interactive, pretend play.
And those kids who were often babysat daily by FaceTime with their relatives, don’t worry about them either. The American Academy of Pediatrics screen time recommendations include an exception for video chatting. Even at this young age, toddlers can tell the difference between a live video session and a broadcast. This means they are recognizing smiles and reactions of those on the video chat which is a key part of their social development.
What about those babies that cry when being handed to another adult? I know on more than one occasion I have blamed my daughter’s crying fit on the covid lockdown to make the person with her feel less badly, but in reality, it’s likely that these babies-turned-toddlers are experiencing very normal separation anxiety. This common child behavior typically starts between 8-14 months and can last until the child is 2.5 years old. Although familiarity to the other adults will help ease this anxiety, it’s likely that this behavior would’ve occurred with or without the lockdown.
The Older Ones
We know that socialization of older children is more important, and unfortunately many kids have missed out on this. As we start to re-emerge and interact with more people, how do we get ourselves comfortable doing so? These children are old enough to remember a time before masks, and are confused that we previously had precautions in place to keep us safe. How do we acclimate them to a new normal when we feel ready to do so. Well, Michelle says the critical part is determining when you as a parent are ready. Do your research and make informed decisions for your family. No matter what age, kids take cues from their parents. Knowing this, model the comfort in yourself that you'd like to have for your children.
If you're like me, you've had reservations about going back to "normal" which is completely understandable given the trauma we've all been through. While neither Michelle nor Rayz Kidz is providing medical advice, Michelle suggests to question where your apprehension comes from - is it the idea of getting sick right now? Is it the long term unknown effects of the virus? Is it the social stigma? Talk with your doctor, do your research to understand the risks and benefits to make decisions based on knowledge, not feeling.