Are we raising little germaphobes?

The pandemic has heightened the fear of germs in children—but that might be OK.

Meg St-Esprit’s seven-year-old son had always been wary of germs. If a classmate “licked the end of a marker and put it back in the bin,” she says, he’d avoid the markers for the rest of the day.

But the constant barrage of COVID-19 news this past year amplified those fears to a fever pitch. “He’s a ball of anxiety,” says St-Esprit, a mother of four in Pennsylvania. “He got to the point where, within our house, he was like, ‘I don’t want a sibling to touch me because they might give me corona.’”

St-Esprit’s son’s anxiety, fueled by COVID-19, is far from unique. In a survey published by the American Psychological Society this fall, more than 75 percent of adults polled cited the pandemic as a significant source of anxiety; a CDC review released in November reported that the proportion of mental-health-related ER visits for five-to-11-year-olds increased by 24 percent over the last 12 months.

Read This Next

How slimes and squishies soothe children in times of stress
Talking to kids about vaccines
Why teaching kids outside might help them thrive