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What the fear of Corona is doing to the souls of our children

to the souls of our children

Throughout the previous year, we have been able to observe that the handling of the actual or feared dangers of COVID19 worldwide is essentially based on fear. This applies equally to children, parents and employees in kindergartens. Now, for the first time, one of Germany’s leading educational publishers has addressed the question of what this fear of Corona is doing to our children. The answer is depressing: if the Corona-related restrictions in the daycare sector remain in place, we will raise a young generation “that no longer feels its inner self and has forgotten the joy of learning.”

Kurt Gerwig, who holds a degree in social pedagogy, is one of the best-known and most successful German filmmakers in the educational field. His films are also widely used in vocational colleges for educators. Gerwig has now produced a courageous interview with Gerald Hüther, one of Germany’s best-known brain researchers.

In the interview, Hüther describes how the corona interventions sustainably suppress children’s vital needs for connectedness and autonomy. Adults, according to Hüther, can temporarily postpone needs without suffering harm. In contrast, children do not yet possess this ability. Children cannot postpone the satisfaction of their needs because they have not yet learned to satisfy their needs themselves. If – as is currently the case – children’s needs continue to be suppressed in the long term, this leads to networks in the brain that ensure that these needs are deprived and are completely lost to the children in the long term. According to Hüther, children are degraded to “robots” and “command recipients”, “they will simply function”.

The psychological conditioning of the children is of a particularly bad influence: “The children afterwards think themselves it’s great that they’ve managed not to visit their grandmother anymore. Filmmaker Gerwig reports a conversation with a five-year-old girl who said, “I don’t need anyone to play with; I’ve gotten used to being alone.” And a little boy had asked anxiously, “Mom, is kindergarten closed now because I didn’t wash my hands properly?”

Against this backdrop, Hüther makes an impassioned plea for rethinking the Corona restrictions in daycare centers: “It must not be the case that a child, in the course of its development, is put in a situation where it is forced to suppress its deepest human needs and, as part of this, loose the most valuable thing – its innate joy of discovery and creative spirit. This must not happen in institutions that call themselves educational institutions.”

Hüther, who is also one of Germany’s leading researchers of fear and anxiety, believes that it is the duty of us adults to carefully examine whether our fears are well-founded before we pass them on to our children unreflectedly. He distinguishes between a healthy fear of real events and a sickening fear of what we imagine could happen: “If the lion is sitting in front of me, then fear is something healthy. It makes me feel safe. But if I just imagine that the lion might come, that’s an unhealthy fear that paralyzes me.”

As a daycare provider, we want to take this approach. From our perspective, there is a distinction between risk management and policies of fear. We will, of course, continue to implement our existing hygiene concepts. Due to the international composition of our teams and parent body alone, we had already taken Corona related occupational health protection very seriously in February 2020, much earlier and more strictly than elsewhere.

Unlike others, however, we will not use fear in our organization to force compliant behavior. We know about the negative effects of projecting our own fears onto our children. Therefore, we trust instead in the willingness of all involved to act responsibly.

In the interview with Kurt Gerwig, Gerald Hüther also discusses ways out of Corona fear and how we can better protect our children from our fears. Part of the interview is published on Youtube. The full version can be purchased from the publisher AV1-Pädagogik. Our employees have access to a licensed full version via our intranet.

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