Why Kids Are Happier During the COVID-19 Lockdown (Thanks, Science!)

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two kids pillow fighting with each other during covid-19

Parenting during COVID-19. How are you doing? I know the days can be long and stressful, but guess what? Your hard work is paying off. Reports are showing that kids are happier, less stressed, and learning more independence during this time. You’re making a difference and these kids will thank you for it!

Related: How a Worldwide Pandemic is Bringing Family Closer Together

The Initial Reaction

At first, a lot of moms were shocked by the sudden transition. Many mothers work to support their family and being at home 24/7 was a big change. Many parents felt “overwhelmed” and emotionally drained for the first few weeks. Maybe you still feel this way. That’s okay and very normal!

Change is always difficult for me. Even though I don’t have kids, the beginning of this pandemic was very hard. I found myself feeling depressed and unmotivated. However, after a couple of weeks of figuring things out and setting a schedule for myself, things have started to get better!

The Reports

mother holding tablet with her two children

CNN released a great article with stories about families who are seeing improvement in their homes during this time. One mom parenting during COVID-19 said that her kids are “better behaved, kinder to one another, and more independent.” Have you noticed anything similar?

In fact, this mom even said, “I don’t want it to go back to the way things were.” Many parents are agreeing. The kids are smiling and laughing more and it’s a welcome change. One of my friends said she almost feels guilty for having such a positive experience.

Of course, not all kids are going to be able to experience something like this. Poverty and sadness are present in many homes right now. However, if you are lucky enough to be feeling joy and peace while parenting during COVID-19, embrace it. This odd situation won’t last forever.

Personal Experiences

I interviewed a few of my mom-friends to hear their thoughts on the article. I wanted to know if they were experiencing similar changes in their kids. Turns out, they all were! My sister-in-law said, “Even though [it] is extremely exhausting at times, I get to see them learn new things and hit milestones.” Though you’re tired and going stir crazy, take a moment to notice the incredible things your kids are accomplishing.

Another friend of mine said that she has found more patience with her kids. They have more time to sort out their emotions and feelings. Because there is no alternative, her children are getting along better and finding creative ways to play with each other.

This mom noted that her children are definitely still quarreling. That’s normal and expected. However, they are trying harder to get along and to forgive each other.

Others noted that they love seeing their kids explore more of their individual interests. They’ve been unafraid to fail because they know they have time to improve. Isn’t it magical? I am loving all these positive changes!

What Science Says

In her CNN article, Elissa Strauss wrote,

While it’s too early for any studies on a happiness spike, hundreds of families from around the United States have shared on social media and in discussion boards a sense of relief and joy, which tracks with what we know about the causes of childhood anxiety and depression today.

Between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression rose by roughly 60 percent among those ages 14 to 17, and by 47 percet among those ages 12 to 13, according to a 2019 study. Suicides among 10- to 24-year-olds rose 56 percent from 2007 to 2017.

She says that these mental health issues are caused by kids being overworked and not having enough time. Therefore, this era of extra time is bringing relief. Parenting during COVID-19 is definitely tricky, but it’s making such a difference.

Words From the Prophets

toddler boy smiling at the camera

A lot of people call members of the church “backward” for emphasizing home time and the family. Well, I feel like CNN is helping prove to the world that what we’re proclaiming is true. The Family: A Proclamation to the World states,

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

It also says that “the family is ordained of God” and points out the importance of “wholesome recreational activities.” Right now, we are spending a lot of time doing these recreational activities. It’s blessing the children immensely!

Why Did Kids Have Anxiety?

Eventually, this pandemic will be over. When it is, life will go back to the way it was before (mostly). You might be asking, what can I do to keep the anxiety at bay? If kids had mental health issues before, they might come back. How can we help?

First, we should understand what was causing these issues. According to CNN, school was the root of a lot of stress. School has become more “achievement-focused” and less about exploration and creativity. Then, when they get home, kids rarely get a break to be independent.

A recent study showed that homework and schoolwork are the primary reason for stress in children. It’s important to recognize what was causing the problems. This way, we can work on moving forward in a positive manner. I definitely don’t want things to go back to the way they were.

Next Steps

father and daughter washing their hands together at home

So, what’s next? What do we do when this is all over? One of the most important things would be to listen to your children. Hear what they have to say. Value their opinions, desires, and dreams.

Give your kids time every day to relax, create, and have responsibilities that revolve around cooperation at home. Allow them to be kids! They need to play and enjoy life. Let them use their incredible imaginations. This will continue to boost their happiness, even when we’re out of quarantine.

Lastly, don’t forget that “happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” It can be difficult but strive to do family home evening, Come Follow Me, and pray as a family. Heavenly Father will bless the lives of you and your children.

Related: 5 Tips for Having Serious Gospel Discussions with Your Kids

So, how has parenting during COVID-19 been for you? Have your kids been happier? Let us know what you’re going to continue doing after the lockdown. We’d love to hear from you!

Brooklyn Gittins is an enthusiastic member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has written for food and lifestyle blogs but is currently sharpening her skills as a writing intern for Third Hour. She enjoys spending time with her husband, petting dogs, and eating buttered noodles.