Amid all the upheaval and abrupt changes we’re navigating our way through during the coronavirus crisis, two groups of children are facing additional challenges.
While many parents are frantically trying to adjust to working from home, rapidly acquiring new technology skills or giving support and reassurance to anxious grandparents, the needs of our post 16 years children might be less easy to see.
Two cohorts, Years 11 and 13 have found themselves in a bewildering vacuum. Coming to a premature end to their school careers they are faced with numerous losses: the final exhibition, show or sports tournaments; the shared intensity of exam period; the prom and the tense agony of results day.
For the Year 13 children, preparation for the next huge step not knowing when or if the apprenticeships or university places will ever materialise.
Not all young people will find this an ordeal, for some introverts this is a welcome time to avoid the stress of social contact and to focus on more solitary activities, but the loss of these rites of passage may leave an aching gap.
None of us yet know how the future will unfold. Students are watching their parents and teachers, some struggling to master a totally different way of communicating, having no clear answers to what previously was a predictable course of events. An unsettling experience at a time that is already full of change and transition.
Parents may find themselves wanting to limit social media, worrying about the length of time they are spending on their devices. Remember that they have lost their peer networks and maintaining these while physically separate will be of huge importance. Separation from friends can be acutely painful. Establishing some structure to the day, without feeling the necessity to replicate a school day.
Tensions at home may be exacerbated by lack of structure and an indefinite period together. Multi-generational households and those where a family member are high risk will increase the anxiety. As will households facing extreme financial stress.
Communication is really important, it might feel difficult to provide reassurance when parents themselves are feeling vulnerable and exposed.
These children may be adult sized and have capabilities that we’re in awe of, but they’re still children and their foundations have been seismically shifted, their future looks precarious.
We need to hold the ship steady for them and be patient through these stormy waters.
Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.