After almost two years of living with COVID, the relevant data gathered shows that children are at low risk of infection. The kids who contract the virus become seriously sick. Typically, those with underlying medical conditions serve as reliable indicators of an individual child’s higher risk.
This week, Dr. Debra Soh wrote an opinion column for the Washington Examiner that discusses how the COVID-19 culture war sparked by Washington and the corporate media has, unfortunately, put childhood health behind the need for illusory control over all aspects of life.
The parental instinct to protect children rightfully causes parents to take COVID very seriously. However, the data and research that has been developed should give parents reassurance rather than even greater anxiety.
Soh argues that the balance between taking a reasonable and well-considered approach and zero-tolerance measures promotes fear and irrational decision-making. Throughout history, the general response of any pandemic has included strong feelings about protecting weaker and younger family members.
Unfortunately, messaging that promotes alarm directly affects those anxieties and causes parents to make poor decisions they might not otherwise make. Soh says that clinicians treat anxiety by challenging irrational fears rather than rationalizing them. Exposure therapy has been a standard clinical treatment that promotes exposure to irrational fears to overcome fear.
Soh describes how many parents are likely to find exposure therapy counterintuitive since the typical first reaction to fear is to avoid the triggering cause of anxiety. Avoidance is almost always only temporary relief and does not do anything to combat the underlying causes of anxiety. Another harmful effect of avoidance is its impact on children, who learn quickly to model their behavior after their parents’ actions.
Another poor outcome resulting from the pandemic is a general worsening of existing co-parenting dysfunction in families with parents who live apart. When parents disagree about risk assessments and proper health care decisions for their children, already stressful conditions for both children and adults can become highly strained. Parents undergoing divorce or separation during the pandemic often need competent clinical help when dealing with COVID-related decisions.