Half of parents with children between 4-12 think the coronavirus pandemic has affected their youngers’ friendships

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 11:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 11:52 am

And this is echoed by the kids themselves, with six in 10 saying the thing they miss most about lockdown is their friends.

The poll of 1,000 parents and 500 children aged 6-10 found 38 per cent of kids even miss going to school.

While four in 10 mums and dads believe their kids have experienced a heightened sense of anxiety since the outbreak.

A third have seen a lack of energy and enthusiasm, with one in five admitting their young ones are no longer sleeping well.

Perhaps most worryingly, a quarter of adults said they would be unable to identify if their child was struggling with mental health.

Detangle the day

The research was commissioned by Tangle Teezer, which is working with child psychologist Dr Sam Wass, on a campaign to help parents get their children to open up during haircare time.

Dr Wass, from the award-winning Channel 4 series ‘The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds’, said: “The last few months have been a massively stressful time for everyone.

"But for children, who tend to live much more ‘in the moment’, and who often understand little about why these new rules are being imposed, it has been a particularly tough few months.

“Children are always better at understanding how another child feels, as their perspective on life is more similar.

"But many children aren’t getting as much access as normal to their friends at the moment, which makes things even harder.

“It’s natural that we as parents want to support our children through this difficult period.

"But getting them to open up can be hard. We have to play so many different roles as parents

"And it’s very easy to get stuck in one role - which can make it hard to shift gear into situations where we just want to provide emotional support.”

Children's biggest worries

The prospect of family or friends succumbing to the virus was the biggest worry for children, aged between six and 10, this year (46 per cent), followed by grandparents being lonely (31 per cent).

An overwhelming 71 per cent of children said their parents or guardians had talked to them about coronavirus as much as they would have liked.

Another 73 per cent felt they themselves had talked about general things as much as they would have liked, but there was a markedly different response from parents on the same issue.

Almost half (45 per cent) of the parents surveyed said that they generally found it easier to give their child access to technology instead of talking to them at the end of a school day.

And only 23 per cent of respondents said they felt they talked to their child “more than average”.

Dr Wass tips for ‘detangling the day’ with children.

He says face-to-face isn’t always best, as a lot of the most relaxed conversations happen while all parties are facing forwards

Physical touch is relaxing - like touching on the head, which is a particularly trusting form of touch

Other ways to engage kids include making it feel like their treat time - encouraging a child to open up to you is about making them feel in control.

Parents should use open-ended questions, and be patient – they should avoid questions with a yes/no answer, but aim instead for open-ended questions.

Wass says mums and dads should summarise, and reflect - once they’ve started to talk, to ensure they are on the same page.

Don’t deny their feelings, and don’t try to ‘fix’ things - it’s tempting, particularly with our children, to tell them what they should (or shouldn’t) be feeling - or try to fix their problems

Finally, parents are encouraged to show their vulnerable side - it can help to say that mum and dad are having a difficult time too.

Jacqui Ripley, director of brand communications at Tangle Teezer, said: “Children are having to worry about a lot of grown-up things at the moment and conversation always helps.

"We wanted to carve out a time in the day dedicated to children taking the floor and voicing their concerns, and what better time than having your hair brushed.

You can find the full list of Dr Wass’s tips here: [https://www.tangleteezer.com/discover/inspiration/tips-tricks/detangle-the-day/]