How the pandemic hurts childhood brain development

DANGER: Deadly coronavirus. Wear a face mask.

These stark words are spelled out in large letters to protect children as they enter a community playground. But the biggest danger to our children isn’t the possibility of contracting the virus on a playground. As we protect our children from becoming infected, and from infecting vulnerable family members, we are overlooking a far greater danger to the children themselves: stress.

Stress related to the coronavirus in both public and private spaces — along with the disruption of home and school environments — is compromising the development of brain systems and cognitive skills needed for success in school and life. We know this from decades of neuroscience research on the effects of poverty, trauma and violence on brain development.

But there is also some promising news: Neuroscience has provided us with programs to mitigate the stress effects of Covid-19.

We write from years

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