Surprising Ways Quarantine May Have Helped Your Kids
While isolation is no more in many communities across the United States, parents and children alike have to adjust back to “normalcy.” COVID-19 has changed all of our lives in many ways, both negatively and positively. Some positive things quarantine may have brought to your family are more dinners together, more hugs throughout the day, and an overall stronger bond with your children. But what are the scientific and social benefits for your children that have come from the quarantine? The answers may surprise you!
1. The increased ability to read body language.
Since children who have developed into toddlers in the past year don’t really know what it’s like to interact with strangers without their masks on, young children have been forced to learn the nonverbal cues from strangers like no generation who have come before them. The mouth can be an easy and efficient way to express how you’re feeling, solely by smiling, frowning or by not reacting to someone with your any mouth movement at all. Since young developing children in 2021 have had to read peoples’ expressions solely by their eyes and eyebrows in the past year, researchers say that children may be more adept at reading nonverbal body language in the eyes and bodily gestures than those generations who have come before them! This could make those children better at recognizing both genuine happiness or negative emotions such as lying simply by paying attention to eyes, a skill that most of us subconsciously have to an extent, but perhaps not as well as this future generation.
2. Family bonding time has many health benefits.
It may be common knowledge that building strong bonds for every relationship within your family is important, but the many ways quarantine has helped your child’s health through bonding with your family may not exactly be obvious. First of all, the increase in family bonding time may have helped your child’s mental and emotional health. When your child feels a strong bond within your family, they feel a strong sense of belonging, a better sense of their identity, and therefore feel confident about their place in the world and who they are when they interact with anyone outside of your family. This has major benefits mentally and in social settings for your child, and becomes fundamental to their self-esteem and how they think about themselves.
Not only has quarantine provided your children with the ability to improve their mental health and self-esteem, but the increase in family bonding opportunities can teach teamwork, decrease behavioral problems, decrease stress, and increase physical health. Having more time to be at home with siblings or elderly relatives and parents allows young children to take on responsibility in moments where family members need a hand and teaches them how to work together as a team to carry out familial tasks. Children who spend more time connecting with family have also shown to display less behavioral issues, partly from parents being more inclined to praise positive behaviors more frequently, as opposed to teachers who are responsible for 20 or more children at a time. The higher frequency of positive attention for positive actions from parents during this non-traditional school year has the potential to increase good behaviors among children in the future.
Further, sneaking time between your work meetings for quick hugs and kisses between you and your kids during your quarantined work days can significantly decrease the stress they may normally feel during their school day, and decrease your stress too! With less opportunities for bullying or feeling left out while being at home, or any other worries children have in traditional school, your children may have experienced a reduction in stress levels. This lower stress also has physical health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, better sleep quality and increased hormonal health. There has also been more time for healthy home-cooked meals and outdoor play to increase their physical health.
3. More time for expressiveness, creativity and new skills.
According to the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kamala P. Tamarisa, MD, FACC claims that one major pro of the quarantine brought on by COVID-19 is that children have more time for unstructured self-expression and creativity:
“With schools closed, the clock is not running my children’s lives anymore. Lack of regimented routine has left room for expressiveness and ingenuity – music production, creating art and exploring online coding. Kids are relishing non-curriculum books without the pressure of time.”
This unstructured creativity time has allowed children to explore skills and subjects schools don’t teach, such as the online coding Dr. Tamarisa mentioned above, knitting or sewing, drawing with chalk outdoors, building construction projects with tools, or baking desserts. Having more time for a more wide array of activities during quarantine with nearly an entire year of non-traditional school has allowed your children to be more creative than they may have been in traditional school!
4. A more self-regimented structure.
With the uncertainty of what COVID-19 and the respective quarantine would bring, our children have had to adapt to new schedules along with us. In cases where kids had ten minute breaks in their classes while their parents had to be in a Zoom meeting in the next room, they had more time alone to independently play and fill up their time with things they decided to do, instead of teachers guiding them to a playground or instructing them to read quietly. They could choose to fill the gaps in their day with games like online chess, making themselves a snack, or even daily hygiene if they forgot a step in their morning routine earlier in the day. This independence in the structure of their day allowed them to grow in ways they cannot while physically at school. Dr. Tamarisa perfectly explained that quarantine has allowed her children to adopt some impressive mature behaviors as a result of more independence in this way:
“My children have taken structure into their own hands by self-made daily calendars with study, exercise and game times. It has been uplifting to see this early maturity!”
5. A newfound curiosity about the world outside of their own isolation.
For young children who were just starting to make sense of the world around them as COVID-19 hit, the outside world beyond their living room can feel like a mystery. Instead of traveling to see different cultures or landscapes, parents had to resort to internet pictures, books, or educational television shows to teach their kids about the world outside of their community. Learning about the world while having to be in isolation can spark immense intrigue and desire within kids to understand others and learn about places they can explore once they can leave their homes again. Or even on a smaller scale, kids may find even more excitement in going back to simple pleasures such as picking out snacks at grocery stores, movie theaters, and baseball games. Your children get a second chance to experience these fun little activities with you again and may even appreciate them more than before!
6. An appreciation for friends and the health of others.
Chances are you’ve probably seen the adorable videos of little ones being reunited with a best friend again after a year in quarantine. It’s always the same— huge smiles on their faces, yelling each others’ names in pure joy and excitement, running toward each other with arms open wide, not wanting to break their tight hug. Their reactions are probably pretty similar to how you feel about getting to see your loved ones again over dinner in a restaurant instead of over a screen.
Not only have our children experienced the joy of getting to play with friends again in person, but this appreciation for others has allowed our children to understand the significance of friendships and close relationships in life. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that there’s a possibility that our children will feel more love and compassion for those close to them and place more of a significance on building friendships in the future.
With this appreciation of others also comes the lesson that we are responsible for respecting others around us in regard to their health. Fingers crossed that our children have officially learned the importance of proper hand washing (which COVID-19 has made especially helpful with those of us working on potty training and bathroom etiquette), coughing and sneezing into elbows, and having a general concern for helping and being respectful of the elderly or sick people in public. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one of the results of this quarantine experience is a future generation of more health conscious and selfless human beings?
The Pros of Quarantine for Your Family
Our hope for you and your family is that you were able to grow together during quarantine, reconnect, and build strong bonds through memories that will last forever! It’s likely that your children grew positively in many ways: having a heightened ability to read emotions through others’ eyes as a result of masks, being mentally, emotionally, and physically healthier, increased self-esteem and self-sufficiency in structuring their days, becoming more curious about the world and how they can affect it, and an overflowing deep appreciation for relationships with others! Well wishes to your child as they get to re-explore the endless simple pleasures of a non-quarantined world and continue to grow into a healthy, compassionate, self-sufficient little one!
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