According to researchers from a long study in the UK, much older children have exhibited the tantrums and challenges associated with the “terrible two” during the Covid pandemic.
Emotional difficulties usually peak in children about two years of age and decrease sharply during the elementary school years, but experts at the University of Bristol found that during the Covid crisis those eight-year-olds had shown the type of difficult behavior expected of two years. old.
The researchers said the emotional distress young people have faced during the closures could lead to serious mental health problems in recent years.
Although the increase in emotional problems in adolescents and young adults has been highlighted since the pandemic, relatively little work has been done on the emotional response of preschool and primary school children.
Researchers from the beloved, highly respected, 30-year-old Children of the 90 examined the emotional development of more than 700 children during the pandemic. They compared the data collected before the Covid crisis with the evidence collected through a questionnaire last summer.
Rebecca Pearson, a tenured professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Bristol, said: “Emotional problems usually reach two years and then decrease during childhood, but during the pandemic older children had much higher levels of emotional distress. higher than expected age.
Our findings suggest that elementary school children may have emotional difficulties at the level expected during the “terrible two years.” This could reflect a delay in emotional development that, if left unchecked, can largely survive the pandemic and have long-term consequences for this generation of children. “
Helen Bould, a consultant and tenured professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Bristol, said: “This work highlights the negative impact that Covid-19 and the blockages on the mental health of younger children have.”
The Melville family: Caroline, Tommy and their children (left) Arlo, Pippa and Elsie. Photography: Supplied
The findings match the experiences of the Melville family of Bristol, which is among the nearly 30,000 people involved in the multi-generational study of Children in the 1990s.
“We had a lot of ups and downs, good and bad times,” said Caroline Melville, Pippa’s mother of seven, Elsie of six, and Arlo of four. “My husband was out of work during the first closure for five weeks. We all really enjoyed having him at home. “
When she returned to work, Caroline had to try to educate the girls at home while also taking care of Arlo and the dog. “It was very hard.” He said his daughters began to behave as if they were much younger. “They stamped their feet and yelled and yelled. They would not dress or brush their teeth, things they are very capable of doing.
“They usually love to run outside and climb trees. They didn’t want to leave at all. Going back to school was an emotional roller coaster ride. It was pretty overwhelming to begin with. But they love it now. I think they have bounced. I just hope we don’t block it again. “
Also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), children in the 1990s enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. Since then, it has tracked the health and development of women, their children and grandchildren.
The investigation into “two terrible” is preliminary and has not yet been peer-reviewed.