Nearly half of UK children regressed developmentally under lockdown – study

Lazy eyes listen


According to a report published on Tuesday by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, nearly half of British parents surveyed (47%), feel their children experienced a decrease in social and emotional development during the Covid-19 lockdown.

More than half of those with children aged four to seven – 52% – stated their children regressed in development, while 42% of those with children aged 12 to 15 said the same. Parents of girls were more likely than parents of boys to report a regression.

According to the report, only one in every six parents observed their children face less obstacles than before the lockdown.

Parents whose employment position altered, even if they were only furloughed and not fully cut off from financial assistance, were considerably more likely to report social and emotional regression in their children. According to the study, children whose parents were furloughed were “significantly more likely to experience a worsening of their socio-emotional skills than those whose parents had not been furloughed,” 51% versus 45%.

The researchers polled 6,095 parents with children aged four to sixteen about their experiences during the first year of the pandemic, asking how often the child seemed worried or easily scared, lost confidence, was constantly fidgeting or squirming, had tantrums, or displayed other negative behaviors in February 2021 versus February 2020, before the UK implemented its Covid-19 lockdown.

The study notes that, unlike other lockdown surveys that focused on lost academic learning, there was no evidence that children from disadvantaged families fared worse than children from wealthier families during the pandemic, and that “parental job instability,” rather than simply poverty, was the primary driver of the negative impact lockdowns had on children’s development.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, children from all backgrounds saw their social and emotional skills worsen considerably,” IFS research economist Andrew McKendrick said in a press release announcing the findings, noting that, in addition to “school closures, lack of contact with friends and family, and potentially devastating severe illness or death among loved ones…another important driver of children’s declining skills was the economic disruptions experienced by their parents.”