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In life, every challenge also brings with it opportunities to grow. During the past year, we all had to adapt to living life in a different way due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through my work with children, adolescents, young adults and their families, I was able to make some reflections as to what my clients have learnt during the pandemic. The following are a few of these thoughts.

Socialisation – We frequently hear that human beings are a social species; this was very evident throughout the pandemic. Due to social distancing and other preventive measures, most of us have not met up with family and friends for a long time. We tell each other that we miss seeing each other and giving a hug or a kiss. Children want to play together and are tired of being told not to go close to their friends. This has made people realise how important socialising is for them and not to take opportunities to be surrounded by loved ones for granted.

Outdoors – When everyone was stuck inside during the lockdown or during quarantine, most people expressed how much they missed being in the outdoors. Parents frequently told me that they observed changes in their child’s behaviour. When they stopped attending extra-curricular activities, they were limited with not having an outlet where they can vent out their feelings and to use up their energy. Although currently there are a lot of limitations as to which activities children can go to or engage in, with some creativity, the outdoors can still be enjoyed. Being in nature can be helpful to have a break from the everyday routine.

Family time – In a time where we could not socialise, family became most people’s social circle. Before the pandemic, adolescents frequently complained that they did not want to hang out with their family. Once this was their only option, they discovered that actually, their family can be fun and started to bond better after they spent more time together. The pandemic was also an opportunity for parents to realise that having more time to spend together as a family was important and that they need to prioritise it.

School – Most of the younger children mentioned that they prefer attending school physically because they miss their friends. The older children said they liked online schooling as they could sleep in and be more comfortable at home. They were able to keep in contact with their friends through social media. More than ever, parents could realise that school does not serve an academic purpose only but it helps with the holistic development of children.

Whilst we keep hoping that the pandemic will be over soon, this is not something that we can control. Getting through the days when it gets hard is what we can do for the time being, just remember that better days will eventually come too and if you need some extra support, ask for it.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.