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28th May 2020

Bernardos Ireland calls on Leo Varadkar to consider the needs of children during phased reopening


22 percent of families have experienced tension at home during lockdown.

Children’s charity Bernardos has called on Leo Varadkar and the rest of the government to pay particular consideration to the needs of children during the next stages of the phased re-opening.

While everyone has been doing their best to stay safe, stay isolated, and stay healthy, people are definitely starting to feel the strain. Children in particular are especially sensitive during these times – many of them worry for themselves or their family, many are too young to really understand why they’re being separated from their friends, and many are so filled with energy that being stuck inside one house all day is a struggle.

Bernardos Ireland recently conducted a survey to find out how children and families are getting on during the Covid-19 restrictions.

The survey found that 53 percent of respondents were worried about family health, while a huge 76 percent miss physical contact. 84 percent of children miss seeing their friends and 68 percent are even missing school.

Parents have reported more difficult bedtime routines, more frequent temper tantrums and outbursts, a lot of arguing with mum and dad, and more fights between siblings.

Children were also reportedly more concerned about family members contracting Covid-19 that they were about themselves contracting the virus (26.5 percent compared with 16 percent). Bernardos notes that “this may have been directly linked to the reporting of Covid-19 and how children perceived their responsibility for protecting vulnerable family members”.

One grandmother commented:

“The boys are extremely stressed… They are terrified I will be infected by them or others and will die. The total focus everywhere on the virus is really upsetting children, irrespective of their circumstances, it is adding stress. My boys wrote emails to me a week ago begging me not to go out or speak to anyone… Children need reassurance at all levels.”

A lot of single parents are really feeling the pressure of the restrictions. Many report the difficulty of a lack of support, with one mother commenting that she felt judged when she left the house with her children.

However, there are also some positive aspects emerging. Over half of families reported being satisfied or extremely satisfied with family life in general, despite the huge changes, with 46 percent of respondents saying that the restrictions had provided opportunities to reconnect with friends or family.

One respondent commented:

“Sometimes there has been tension within the family, sometimes rows, but generally this crisis has brought us closer together as a family with more communication and honesty.”

It remains to be seen exactly which restrictions will be lifted next but, at the moment, it is expected that the distance allowed for travel will increase to 20km and social visits will increase to four this June 8.

You can view the full survey findings on the Bernardos website.