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Children in Time of Covid-19

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

The Covid-19 crisis has fundamentally changed the lives of all people, but the impact that is often overlooked is the additional stress that children and teenagers now face. During regular life, childhood often brings with various types of personal problems, which arise either due to natural human maturation or due to cultural conditioning. Since a person, during his own development, constantly tries to harmonise his innate tendencies with cultural and social restrictions, internal and external resistance, friction or struggle rise. The larger the gap between personal and social expectations, the more intensely the problems will manifest themselves. Therefore, it is not surprising that for most children, the process of growing up is accompanied by a significant amount of physical and emotional stress, which provokes development of various strategies that enable the strengthening of the ego, which is intensively formed in that period. The identity that is formed during this process defines as the child's place in the family and peer groups so his future life strategies. However, although these strategies begin to develop from an early age, they are neither fine-tuned nor diverse enough to optimally protect a child from all events, especially if those events are unexpected and traumatic. Thus, when the situation changes dramatically, such in case of natural disasters, wars, personal traumatic experiences or current pandemic, the strategies available to children are often not effective enough, which is why the stress level in the children can automatically increase. When that happens, children's mind is forced to develop "a fast fix" strategies, that are mostly short-lived, require excess emotional energy and can have long-lasting consequences.

The larger the gap between personal and social expectations, the more intensely the problems will manifest themselves.

A child's mind is like a sponge that absorbs everything without selection. In today's world, however, this ability is overstrained due to the modern way of exchanging information. Namely, the technology increases the capacity of information transmission and enables its quick dissemination. At the same time, the speed of technological development makes it difficult to introduce effective measures that can protect children from information of low standards. Because of that, children are exposed to excessive images of violence, commercialized sexuality, superficial messages that encourage overconsumption, or right now, controversies about pandemics. All of this adds to the expectation parents, schools, and society have of children and is released on them with no control or bad conscience, just as hunting dogs are released on the fox. As a consequence, inner conflicts and confusion about life values ​​​​rise, adding to stress and making the modern world a place where a peaceful and happy childhood is slowly fading.

Often, this leads to psychological, behavioral or health disorders, which can only be resolved with appropriate support. Yet, the speed of life and unrealistic expectations strongly affect adults too. With this, parents, who are the first safeguard for children, are often themselves trapped in their own mental drama, which prevents them not only from successfully protecting the child, but also from noticing his condition. Because of that, it can happen that even those children who seem to be well adjusted to social norms, actually pay a high price in order to maintain that impression.

During childhood, the mind is still in the construction phase and it lacks the experience necessary to interpret the information that comes from the outside or inside. For this reason, children are usually not only unable to correctly assess that information, but they also have difficulty communicating their own state, their pain, their thoughts and feelings. Indeed, they still only learn how to live and survive in this world, in which adults are serving as an example and support. However, if their role models and protectors are not mature enough, both the assimilation of information and its interpretation will fail, and they will be left to toxic influences and damaging conditioning. It is clear that such an outcome can only be prevented if the child receives the wise and compassionate guidance, which is only possible if the child's reference person possesses a high level of personal awareness. But the fact is that many adults cannot identify and solve their own problems, why they cannot provide adequate help to the child either, no matter how hard they try. To make up for own lack of self-awareness and maturity, adults often establish inflexible rules and disciplinary measures that are justified as good intentions but are actually a secondary safeguard that is needed when the first one fails.

The fact is that many adults cannot identify and solve their own problems, why they cannot provide adequate help to the child either, no matter how hard they try.

When one observes general fear and anger that is manifested through this pandemic crisis, and that reveals the predominance of the ego over mindfulness, it is obvious that adult population is too engaged with their own problems to be able to see the extent to which the collective and individual frustration effect children and youth. Indeed, children, who are at this stage of their lives particularly vulnerable and prone to influence, absorb all the emotions and information that are currently manifested in society, without any discrimination. And although it is believed that children are well protected when handed over to their parents during the lockdown, unfortunately, this is not always the case. Namely, some children are not in a “good hands” at home and are even more exposed to the fear and frustration of their parents, to contradictory news about the virus, to conspiracy theories and conflicting behavior of adults in regard to pandemic measures.

It is therefore not surprising that some children are currently experiencing tremendous confusion and a loss of confidence in the ability of adults to successfully resolve this situation. The resulting insecurity is further increased by the interruption of the regular contacts with their peers. Namely, since young people seek confirmation of their social identity through their own reflection in friends and their positioning in peer groups, this aspect of their socialization is disrupted through the pandemic restrictions. For that reason, some children may experience a weakening of their social identity, which is accompanied by uncertainty about who they are and what they really want. Although this effect is generally positive, due to the changed family dynamics that intense togetherness brings with, it may trigger some deeper personal problems, which suddenly rise to the surface and inevitably lead to inner and outer conflicts.

Some children may experience a weakening of their social identity, which is accompanied by uncertainty about who they are and what they really want.

Yet, the crisis itself is less of a problem for children than the inattentive and inconsistent behavior of adults who are normally viewed by them as competent, omniscient and trustworthly authorities. Seeing them tremble under the burden of fear and frustration, children instantly feel deep insecurity and fear too. Unfortunately, this inner children's reaction remains either undetected or is not taken seriously enough until it manifests itself through deviations in their behavior, when it is usually too late for their smooth return to inner balance.

However, it is important to distinguish between children’s original nature and their physical existence that makes them vulnerable and thirsty for information. While on the one hand, children absorb everything and learn quickly in order to survive in the world in which they were born, on the other hand, their original nature is still fresh and allows them to observe life much clearer and more natural than adults. In fact, children bring everything what is needed to this world already at the birth, except for new information that is collected in order to ensure their physical existence. Paradoxically, it is this collected information that is the reason for blurring their original nature and leading, over time, to a blurred image of the world that is considered by adults as the only reality. Such reality is always defined by the artificial boundaries created by the mind, whereby the fuller the space between these borders, the more blurred the view and the stronger the belief that the world is complete. Running after such illusory completeness is also the reason why people feel urge to collect, pursue, and consume, and why they wrongly believe that the children's lack of information automatically characterises their "incompleteness". But just as a tree is complete from the moment it breaks through the ground, so is a child complete from its birth. Yet, as the sapling of a tree needs food and care in order for the tree to develop in its full power, so the human sprout will develop its innate potential only when it is nurtured and protected. And although modern society believes that a safe and nourishing environment for children can be created through material means, the opposite is true if such an approach lacks wisdom and mindfulness.

Just as a tree is complete from the moment it breaks through the ground, so is a child complete from its birth.

Even more, the current level of collective consciousness acts like acid rain, polluting children's minds with toxic emotions, thoughts and actions. In addition, children are burdened by harmful attachments to which their parents expose them. Namely, in their lack of a deeper understanding of themselves and life in general, they perceive children as an extension of their own ego and not for who they really are - independent beings. Children are, indeed, a newly created, fresh and vibrant life energy. Bubbly, loud and joyful. This energy seeks the true expression that modern urban culture largely limits, either with physical barriers in the form of apartments and classrooms or by non-physical barriers in the form of restrictions of their natural processes. Nowadays, children can generally no longer climb trees because the parks are protected, and they cannot play outdoors because of apparently annoying noise their play makes. Instead, they spend hours in front of computer, video games or with mobile phones in their hands. However, when the child’s vibrant energy is not set free through intense play, it will be released explosively either outwards or inwards. In order to prevent such a result, children would have to use suitable instruments, which is difficult because they are mostly not taught about in school or in the family. This is a paradox because, today's culture and the restrictions that are part of it, are built by adults, who therefore have a responsibility to instruct children precisely in the use of instruments that regulate the energy constrained by these restrictions. Instead, children are usually only instructed on how to suppress their internal torrents, while no explanations are given on how this energy is created, released or channeled. Because of that, the mind, thoughts and feelings remain unexplored and confusing even after the child is grown up.

Through all these, children’s talents get suffocated, and their inherited potentials underdeveloped. They are expected to bend into something what they are not, the same way as if it would be expected from the willow tree to grow into beech, or from snowdrop to smell like a rose. This inability to freely express one's own nature is especially stressful now, when lockdown and harder pandemic measures are long lasting. In addition, stress is exacerbated by the general change in social dynamics. Namely, since the ego cannot currently apply the life strategies that were previously identified as the path to security and success, it begins to resist the new situation. This is also the reason why many people feel stressed due to a sudden change in the way they work (change from office to home office). It seems that with the forcibly merged work and private life, the collision between family and working time cannot be avoided.

This inability to freely express one's own nature is especially stressful now, when lockdown and harder pandemic measures are long lasting.

Although working parents often justify their "home office blues" with the noise of restless children disrupting their focused work, the real reason for this feeling of dissatisfaction with the situation lies entirely with them, and not with the children. Namely, the feeling of frustration is triggered by any disturbance when the inner core is restless and self-awareness is low, much like the way mud rises to the surface of a shallow pond, churned by even the slightest breeze. And only when their inner stillness is established, adults can see the children, as they truly are, fresh existence, complete and vulnerable at the same time, like a drop of dew on our hand that slowly unites with the skin.

The matter of fact, nothing is ever separated and like this dew that seemingly become part of us, we can unite with everything and everyone at the same moment we drop the idea of separation. When there is no two, there is no collision, no conflict, no stress. What creates our frustration is idea that life stops in office and starts at home or that work stops at home and starts in office. These are just illusions. If that is not understood and if the real cause of the problem is not tracked, this interpersonal, minor or major, drama will not be resolved even when the actors leave the stage. So, it would not matter whether the child returns to school or kindergarten and whether the parents return to the regular office work. The problems will just be put under the carpet again and confrontation with them will only be postponed. Although the same is true for everyone, adults are equipped with numerous strategies to fight against unpleasant feelings, people and events, but children are not. However, when adults realize that despite all their strategies, they are still unable to achieve lasting calm and resistance to stress, they will also be able to more clearly see the situation in which children find themselves. Namely, children do not even have the strategies that are available to us, which makes them even more exposed to the same problems that burden us. Thus, when we feel restricted, unhappy, confused or anxious because of this seemingly endless pandemic, we need to wonder how children may feel, being less equipped for this drama that is presently playing on the world stage. A simple shift of perception, in which our focus turns from our own suffering, to the suffering of our children, is enough to transform frustration into compassion. And this is the moment, when our true love for children begins - compassionate and unconditional love that is manifested when the highest level of maturity is reached.

When there is no two, there is no collision, no conflict, no stress.

And humanity is currently in a phase of intense maturation. In a figurative sense, at this very moment, every person is a child who is encouraged to develop his or her own potential and to manifest it to its fullest in whatever role he or she plays in a life - be it the role of a person, parent , teacher, human or living being. Don't miss this opportunity.

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