50% of East England parents believe lack of playdates is having a detrimental effect on their child’s happiness


Although East England parents are thankful that the second lockdown meant schools and nurseries would stay open, they are still finding that a lack of peer play dates has negatively affected their children.

According to the research conducted by Nick Jr. UK for Blue’s Clues & You!, the survey found that East England parents find peer play dates to be important for their child/ren’s development. Over half (56%) found that they gave their children an opportunity to interact with their peers and 30% felt it allowed their kids to learn whilst having fun.

52% of East England parents felt that due to continued lockdowns and tier regulations, the lack of peer play dates has affected their child’s confidence. Over two fifths (43%) noticed that their child/ren had become clingier and 21% said their children have become shyer. Half (50%) have also seen their children’s happiness affected due to lack of time spent playing with friends, with 35% of East England parents noting their child/ren need more attention and under a quarter of children (23%) are crying more.

With playdates a no-go, over a quarter (26%) of East England parents are spending more time with their children now than they did during the first lockdown and 24% of respondents admitted becoming their child’s friend and developing a closer bond has been the best bit of spending lockdown with their child.

However, when it comes to friendship 52% of East England parents rely on playdates to allow them an opportunity to speak with other adults and 21% use the time to discuss any parenting woes they have with other parents with children of a similar age. East England parents have also seen a negative impact on their mental health, with 24% not being able to attend parent-baby groups and two fifths (40%) not having a break from parenting.

Comparing the first lockdown to the second lockdown, it’s no wonder that 89% of East England parents have struggled to find the right balance between educational and fun activities. Over a fifth (23%) of East England parents have admitted that they have spent less time playing with their child, as they’ve run out of ideas of things to do and 40% noted that the cold and wet winter weather has made it harder to find activities to keep their children occupied.

With activities becoming repetitive and the lack of interaction with peers taking its toll, 61% of East England parents have noticed signs of regression. Over half (51%) of East England parents said their children are having more tantrums / meltdowns, 27% had experienced sleep walking or trouble with sleeping and over a fifth (20%) had become fussy with their food.

Founder of the Good Play Guide, Dr. Amanda Gummer noted “Parents have really struggled during lockdown when it comes to juggling childcare and their day to day lives. It’s understandable parents have seen regression in their children, as peer play dates are a great chance for children to learn and play with those of a similar age and help with their development in their younger years. Blue’s Clues & You! is a great way for children to continue learning through play whilst at home and unable to attend playgroups. Offering interactive and educational activities, puzzles and clue-led adventures for kids to participate in, children are learning as they play. If you are noticing signs of regression such as playing with toys you think they’ve grown out of or a change in eating habits, remember this is all natural. Times of change see children seek comfort so use this as an opportunity to spend more time together and provide them with a good role model to copy.”

East England parents are also concerned that the lack of interaction their kids are having with their peers during lockdown will negatively affect their development. 27% of parents worried that they won’t know how to interact with other children, with a further 41% believing their child will be unhappy and 29% thinking they’ll lack confidence.

However, for East England parents, lockdown certainly hasn’t been all doom and gloom. Two thirds of those surveyed (66%) enjoyed spending quality time together as a family in lockdown, 40% enjoyed seeing their child learn new things and gain a greater independence and 23% had a greater appreciation for teachers. 80% of East England parents have also found they are doing more Christmas arts, crafts and activities with their children to boost spirits.

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