We recently conducted a survey to determine the impact of 2020 on primary school-aged children. Leading Clinical Psychologist, Andrew Fuller, agrees that children are resilient given what they have been presented with last year.
Below is Andrew’s take on the survey results, providing further insights into how children have coped with a global pandemic and why adults need not worry too much about the impact 2020 had on them.
A study by Camp Australia has turned up some unexpected findings. Over 1,200 children aged 5-12 years of age from 170 schools were asked about their experience of 2020.
While most of us, look back on the past year as a bizarre horror show that seemed like it would never end, kids were surprisingly upbeat about it.
Parents and school leaders were also sought out for their concerns for their students. Three main concerns were raised.
The first was the call of Call of Duty became so much stronger. What had been a preoccupation with computer games amplified into an obsession and possibly an addiction. Increased screen time topped their list.
The loss of connection and learning opportunities caused by the need to have remote learning followed in their list of concerns.
Thirdly the adults mentioned a reduction of physical activity by children as a result of 2020.
All worthy and reasonable concerns you might think.
Well, the 1200 children didn’t think so. They didn’t think so at all. In fact, the top three words they used to describe 2020 were fun, good and happy. Unfazed by the turmoil they got on with, well, being kids.
So why the disconnect between adult concerns and students' experiences? There are a couple of possible interpretations.
Maybe the adults were so successful at screening out the harrowing nature of the year from their children that kids were unfazed by it all. The dramatic experiences reported to me by parents everywhere about the family tensions involved in cajoling kids to attend to remote learning speaks against this. Also asking kids about current events on the news and it is clear the media infiltrates into their awareness.
A more probable explanation involves the strengths of young people. Despite being tarnished with labels like ‘snowballs’, this generation of kids may be much more resilient than we give them credit for. Sure, they don’t like failure and can freak out over a fairly mild rebuke, but they appear to be accustomed to the world as it is.
This is not to suggest there haven’t been kids who have done it tough, have grieved for lost relatives or suffered increased relationship stress in their homes. Nevertheless, what seems an extraordinarily bleak year for most adults, appears to simply business as usual for most kids.
It seems that young people have dispositions and attributes adults can learn from. They are resilient and hopeful about the year ahead. When asked, ‘What’s the one thing you are most excited about next year?', they mentioned things like cooking, meeting new friends, teachers, family, holidays, birthdays, and getting involved in new activities.
So, while most adults are brushing themselves off from the past year and hoping that nothing like that ever happens again, we can take some comfort in knowing that at least our children are turning their minds towards developing their strengths, enjoying the present and creating a great future.
Over the past two years, Camp Australia has worked extensively with Andrew Fuller to develop an award-winning framework, the CARE Program to support children with behaviour management issues that can stem from Emotional and Behavioural Disorders such as ADHD, anxiety and depressive disorders, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Camp Australia’s CARE program is unique in its evidence-based approach to supporting children with additional needs. By connecting Educators with the right inclusion training, our CARE team can facilitate an individual child assessment from the moment they are enrolled. This early involvement means our services are inclusion ready, and a child can attend OSHC care with no wait periods, as we can connect them with the right support from the outset.
To learn more about what children can experience in Outside School Hours Care, visit here.
Andrew Fuller is an Author, Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist.