How to put children on hold

The coronavirus pandemic is a good way to do it, and with so many possible collateral damages including demotivation, anxiety and depression. The net result of the confinement is yet to come in the next few months. We can expect real depressive modes, school drop out, behaviour problems and even the return of preventable diseases such as rubella because of the cessation of vaccination.

A few countries such as Sweden have decided not to confine children and youth keeping schools and day care facilities opened and parks and playground accessible. From the beginning, they considered global heath as a priority instead of just considering protection against the virus. They believed that acting globally was more respecful of children and more prone to protect them physically and mentally. They were right.

In Quebec, we pediatricians, for more than two months, have been trying to support children and families suffering a high level of anxiety and fears but in such a state of confinement and isolation, our tools to care and cure are limited since everything is on hold too. Children needs to play, to go out, to socialize, to keep in touch with their teachers and friends. It is time to open doors and playgrounds, respite and day care facilities and arts and sports also. It is time to get back to normal before it is too late. The virus is not dangerous for children and even quite less than the flu virus itself.

Let’s then be creative and innovative in the communities while following the rules of public health officials. Together, we can put in place a pathway for resetting our children back to creativity, hope and productivity, Let’s make sure they come out and play and work on their return to normality, ready to start school in peace next fall.

The governments are capable of investing millions in support of business entreprises to restart the economy. They should be able to invest also in social entreprises and community groups to help repair children and rekindle their potential to succeed. Let’s work it out now.

By respect for our children

Since the pandemic is showing signs of decline after weeks of hard confinement mostly for children in vulnerable communities, let’s get together to create a new version of support and care for these children affected with anxiety and mental issues.

Their life conditions got worse suddenly with fears and isolation. They were scared to lose their parents and grand-parents, they had to witness more domestic violence, they fell dropped by their school and they could not see their friends, one of the most important support for motivation and success at that age. According to recent studies, more than 20% are suffering from anxiety and mental distress which may cause even more difficulties in the future.

This is a call to respect children and to invent new ways to get them back on track for positive socialization and reassurance. If given opportunities, they will come in rapidly. They should be asked how and when and you will be surprised by how they are full of ideas.

Let’s convince decision makers and municipalities to open the streets, the parks, the school yards and plenty of sites to get children at play and at creation. All those «on hold» because of the pandemic, such as teachers, educators, students and neighbors should get in and play a role by respecting children.