The cross : How can public policies help children in this difficult time?
Sylviane Giampino: The answer varies according to age. Toddlers seem a priori more protected because they have spent more time than usual with their parents. But not all have returned to the nursery or to the nursery assistant since March. Public aid has enabled reception methods to stay afloat, but these will have to be rethought to cope with unemployment and parents’ teleworking. In addition, one can fear the “delayed effects” of this period of collective anxiety and “distancing”. Our health hypervigilance, the fact that babies can touch less, etc., is part of their sensory, motor and relational memory. We will therefore have to follow their evolution.
→ READ. Covid-19: should children be vaccinated?
Concerning older children, in kindergartens, we fear an “over-adaptation”, to the imposed protocols: knowing which group to follow to get to the sinks, monitor the pencil circuit or play in a squared yard. Despite the efforts of the schools, it is stressful. To help them, it would be necessary to relax both the obligation to be present and the expectations that weigh on them. Let’s suspend the skills or behavior assessments in order to lower the pressure.
Are primary school children less exposed?
SG: No, because between 6 and 11 years old, they need extracurricular activities to deploy abilities other than those acquired at home or at school, to move and dream. Why not take advantage of the absence of tourists and the availability of certain parents to reopen – just for children – local museums? And also invite artists, authors? It would be a great experience of cultural democratization, an air bubble for everyone!
→ IN JUNE. Children and coronavirus: should the health constraints imposed on the youngest be relaxed?
We realize that the teenagers are doing badly. How to cure it ?
SG: Most resist. But in college, combining acne, masks, puberty, etc., and curfew, is not easy. Signs of anxiety and depression, aggression or withdrawal appear and the need for support grows. Parents do what they can, but inequalities are widening and child psychiatric consultations are saturated. Let’s quickly strengthen the psychological help networks. The high school students, them, are destabilized by the vote of the reform of the bac on Christmas Eve, and the parents too. It is a symbolic awkwardness: adding too many changes to the floating imposed by the Covid-19 is a risk.
How to give meaning to the youngest?
SG: By supporting their desire to participate. The children and adolescents associated with the work of the High Council tell us their need to get involved, to be useful. We therefore made recommendations to improve their engagement. Whatever their age, they agree to contribute to the national effort, not only by respecting barrier gestures. So let’s make it easy for them, and don’t forget to thank them.