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Are kids regressing socially because of the pandemic?

Reading, writing, and building relationships. When kids are in school, they’re doing all of these things. Since the pandemic hit, they’ve been forced to go to school at home and are currently on summer vacation, away from their friends and classmates.

Does all this mean that kids might be regressing socially? One pediatrician said she’s seeing more kids with mental health issues.

A day at the park is a nice change of pace for Kathleen Love, who is normally stuck at home with her two kids because of the pandemic.

“They are eating more, they’re more needy, they get bored easily, they’re just like running the house like mad,” she said.

They’re also missing their friends.

“I miss going on the playground with them and playing with them,” said kindergartner Hanna Love.

Naples grandfather Bill Norman was at the park with his grandkids and asked them about their feelings on being away from things they’re used to.

“It’s been kind of tough on you guys, right?” he asked his granddaughter. “Because you don’t get to see your friends too much, but it’s nice to get out here in the open.”

Some kids are even missing their teachers.

“Sometimes you wish that you were like at your real school. It doesn’t feel the same, like, the teachers aren’t there to help you and they help us so much,” said 5th-grader Tomas Cordero.

Health experts say most children feel this way.

“There are some children that really thrive in called-in virtual schooling environments, but they are not the majority,” said Dr. Frances Sanchez Duverge, a behavioral health psychologist specializing in children.

Within that majority, pediatrician Dr. Debbie Shepard said she has noticed more mental health problems.

“I’ve seen more kids with depression and anxiety related to being at home and away from their friends,” she said.

It’s reasons like these that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now says that kids should go back into the classroom this fall.

“Right now, school districts across the country are working out processes and guidelines following CDC guidelines to ensure that the classroom is a safe place,” said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, vice president of the Florida chapter of the AAP.

Until then, “they’re like cooped up inside, they don’t have that structure and routine that they normally would have,” Love said.

Which means that days at the park will have to do for many families.

Writer:Jackie Winchester
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