A Portland mom, Tonya Alexander, is worried about her kids because they have no social interactions over the past few months. The mom of three has already seen signs of depression in her kids. She said that she has seen her children becoming more emotional. She explained that they had a lot of tears and were more withdrawn.
No interaction in schooling
While school is about to start, most kids will follow distance learning, meaing they will still not get to interact with their classmates personally. Alexander has three children; one is going into the fourth grade, and one starting seventh grade at the Beaverton School District.
Alexander found an alternative for her fourth-grader child because she is concerned about social isolation and distance learning. She said that from public school, she will let her child attend a small private school that is outdoor-based.
The school will allow students to meet in small groups, distanced, and safe with masks, and following all other protocols. Alexander explained that her son will be able to interact with other kids. Now, Alexander is focusing on her oldest child trying to find solutions while doing isolation.
A Beaverton School District social worker, Amy Baker, said that the district wants to help students. She said that it is working with teachers during this time of distance learning. They are very intentional about relationships in specific strategies and lessons.
Teachers make sure to do a morning meeting or a check-in with their students to spend more time than normal schooling.
Social distancing is taking a toll on children's mental health
A child and family therapist, Chelsea Mier, said that social distancing is challenging especially to young children. She has heard concerns from families about loneliness and isolation that the children might be feeling.
Mier said that this is especially true for the younger children who do not understand what is going on right now. She said that they do not know that what is happening is a unique circumstance and that life will go back to normal at some point.
Mier said that parents have to be a little creative for their kids. She explained that there are many platforms to let children interact with other people. She further noted that parents could use in-person, socially distant learning, or through Zoom or Facetime so that children could socialize with others.
Alexander shared that from time to time, she would allow her children to have one or two of their friends over. She does it to keep their mental health and to prevent them from developing depression.
A study revealed that young people are three times more likely to develop depression in the future. It noted that the loneliness impact could last for at least nine years.
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