The fears of five-year-olds: how young children cope with Covid anxiety

Older children had exams cancelled and their futures thrown into doubt. But what has been the toll on primary pupils who began school during the pandemic?

Let me introduce you to a little girl called Miriam. She’s five years old and attends a primary school in north-east London. The adults who know her describe her as a confident, outgoing child. “She has a hugely adventurous spirit; she wants to try everything,” said one. But the pandemic that continues to spread fear and uncertainty across all our lives has made her scared of the world around her.

Getting to sleep is difficult for Miriam because she has nightmares. Especially on Sundays. Coming into school is hard, because she doesn’t want to leave her mother. Sometimes she gets angry and clings to her mum. “Am I safe enough to do this on my own?” she’s thinking, and sometimes the answer she gives herself is no. “Her wings have been clipped by Covid,” says the school-based counsellor who works with her. She is not alone.

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Category: Mental Health