Towards the end of the first COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, in Aotearoa New Zealand, the authors conducted a small-scale study to gain insight into children’s responses to the pandemic restrictions. As it was not possible to interview children ourselves, we recruited parents to read a set of digital stories about a toy bear in lockdown to their children and to record the ensuing conversations. The recorded conversations were returned to the authors to be transcribed and analysed. One intriguing finding was the strength of children’s feelings of loss in regard to their friendship groups, despite the fact that the lockdowns enabled them to spend more time with their immediate families. This article examines the phenomenon of the importance of peer-orientation over family-orientation as it appeared in the data. Hegemonic thinking and attachment theory are used to further explore this phenomenon and discuss how the current educational trends towards personal independence over family bonds might have led to some of the feelings of loss and anxiety highlighted in the data.
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