How pandemic stress is affecting kids’ behavior

TULSA, Okla. — Students and teachers say bad behavior, bullying and fights are getting worse. Psychologists say the pandemic is mostly to blame.

A teacher told FOX23′s Tanya Modersitzki she quit this year, because of the behavior.

Former sixth grade teacher Stephanie Logie said after seven years of teaching, she quit in December. Between students acting up and the pandemic, it was too much for her mental health.

Since the start of the pandemic, Logie noticed students’ behavior become increasingly worse. She said what the students went through during the pandemic is trauma, and we’re seeing that in their behaviors.

In September, schools across Green Country and the nation were having items stolen and property vandalized as a result of a TikTok challenge called, “I hit a diabolical lick.” For example, several online videos showed students vandalizing and stealing things from school bathrooms.

“When I was there seeing all of the TikTok challenges ... all of the bathrooms were a huge problem. It’s like you’re stuck because they’re destroying them, but at the same time they have the right to go to the bathroom. It was a constant,” said Logie.

She suggests to parents to keep lines of communication open, and make your kids feel safe to help them get through these tough times. She also recommends keeping in contact with your child’s teacher.

Clinical psychologist Nom Kirlic with the Laureate Institute for Brain Research said it’s important for kids’ social development to interact in person, because that’s typically how kids and teenagers learn to handle and express emotions.

Kirlic said without the interaction, it’s almost like kids forget how to behave. More kids seem irritable or angry. He said stress can transfer into these types of behaviors, and added it’s important that kids feel supported by their parents.

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“Not just physically, but emotionally, that they have someone to talk to. Peers to talk to, teachers to talk to,” said Kirlic.

Look out for signs that kids are dealing with trauma and stress, like attitude changes and self-isolation. Both Logie and Kirlic agree that communication and support from parents can be a big help in curbing bad behavior.