THE negative impact coronavirus lockdown has had on younger children's mental health has been revealed in a study of 10,000 young people by Oxford University researchers.

Parents and carers of children aged four to 10 reported over a one-month period they saw increases in their child’s emotional difficulties, such as feeling unhappy, worried, being clingy and experiencing physical symptoms associated with worry.

The Co-SPACE study also found parents and carers also reported that their children’s behaviour had got worse over time, with an increase in behaviours such as temper tantrums, arguments and children not doing what they are asked. They also reported that their children showed greater levels of restlessness/fidgety behaviour and difficulties concentrating.

The same pattern was not seen in the older age group of 11-16 year olds.

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Teenagers themselves reported no change in their emotional difficulties between the two time points and their parents/carers reported that they felt that their child’s emotional difficulties had actually improved. Neither teenagers nor their parents reported any changes in their behaviour over this time but parents felt that their children were more restless and had more difficulty concentrating over time.

Professor Cathy Creswell, Professor of Developmental Clinical Psychology at Oxford University and co-leader of the study, said: "Prioritising the mental health of children and young people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond is critical.

"These findings highlight that there is wide variation in how children and young people have been affected, with some finding life easier but others experiencing more difficulties."

She added: "Our findings have identified some sources of variation but we need to continue to gain a better understanding of which families are struggling and what they need to help direct the right advice and support going forward to ensure that this does not have long-lasting consequences."

The survey is still open and available at