The year 2020 was challenging for everyone. We might have lost our jobs, worried about our health, struggled to adapt to changing social restrictions, dealt with uncertainty, and lost loved ones to the virus. Parents might have worried about how this situation would impact their kids in the long run.
Parents have more time and experience in life. A disruption that lasts a year is significant, but a year for an adult is much different than a child or teenager. Think of the number of changes a child goes through each year. They experience many things for the first time and develop into young adults so quickly.
A year for our kids might equate to several years for us. The number of changes and milestones that kids hit in a short time is much different than for us as parents. As a result, we might feel like our kids were short-changed for their accomplishments and milestones during 2020.
Hitting Milestones in 2020
Kids graduating from high school in 2020 — and possibly even 2021 — might have missed out on a graduation ceremony. The culmination of their high school years came to a halt and ended with no finale or celebration due to social distancing and other safety considerations.
Instead, what is often seen as a milestone for kids wasn’t much different than another day. Celebrating milestones can be a way of giving us closure as we move forward. Celebrations help put a definitive end to an era, like a punctuation mark on a sentence.
Some kids missed out on sporting events, achievements like scouting awards and high honors, performing at a band concert after months of practice, and other milestones that validate accomplishments.
As parents, we can be mindful of these missed milestones, especially if our kids still seem to struggle as things move forward. We might need to be patient with our kids if they feel like they missed something important to growing up. We can also look back and find creative ways to acknowledge and celebrate those milestones, even if a few months later.
The Social Impact of COVID-19
Other kids struggled with social milestones, as they were unable to practice their social skills with peers. As a result, kids might have missed out on opportunities to make new friends or even learn how to handle rejection from peers.
Some kids may have adapted to the changing circumstances. They might have joined friends on Zoom or participated in socially distanced activities when they were able. But the impact on kids was visible, and likely many parents continue to worry about how their kids will move forward.
Yet, as we looked at the negative side of these changes in 2020, how did our kids find the experience? Did they see a bright side to these changes? After all, they might not have thought about what they were missing.
As parents, we could have compared our normal childhood experiences to theirs, believing that our kids missed out. But maybe they didn’t miss out. Perhaps the experience was just different.
Positive Sides of a Year of Isolation
School is an essential part of a child’s life. They spend most of their time at school, and school becomes their hub to friendships, interests, and activities. When they get home, they prepare for the next day with studying and other assignments. For the most part, their entire lives revolve around school.
During a year of isolation from school, our kids might have learned something that we didn’t. They possibly learned how to meet their needs outside of school. While school is a significant part of our kids’ lives, sometimes, our kids are limited in finding what they need outside of school.
A child who gets picked on or bullied in their school might generalize that everyone in the world will reject them. However, what if our kids had the chance to see the world in a much broader sense? Or if they need to discover their self-esteem from within rather than struggling to fit in?
Are Our Kids Ready to Move Forward?
The year 2020 was tough, but our kids might have taken lessons from their experiences that can help them throughout their lives. With online classes, they needed to learn a lot on their own without direct access to help.
They might have focused more on their family, creating bonds that will last a lifetime. One of the most important things our kids might take away from 2020 was learning to be comfortable being alone.
We may feel bad for our kids after this past year, assuming that they missed out. But let’s ask our kids to tell us what they felt about it and what they learned from the challenging year of 2020. They might be more self-assured and confident moving forward than we realize.
The year 2020 will be remembered by anyone who lived through the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people already consider 2020 to be the worst year of their lives. The disruptions, changes, and effects of social restrictions and safety precautions impacted everyone. We may have struggled with the feeling of uncertainty as a deadly virus surged throughout the country. Our kids might have suffered the most. Missing out on milestones and memories that we cherish from our own experiences growing up, our kids could feel like they lost a year. Yet, they might have learned some important things that we may not think about. They might have learned how to be more self-reliant, self-assured, and focused on the things that truly matter to them. If your child is struggling to get back to normal activities due to depression and anxiety, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here for you and your family. Call us at (303) 443-3343.