The pandemic hurts us in every way possible – economically, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Even before the pandemic happened, there has been a steady rise in mental health cases. After the pandemic, it is foreseen that there will be a wave of new cases of people experiencing mental health challenges.
It is not surprising that most of us would feel anxiety and depression during these trying times, but we should not forget that aside from adults, children can be experiencing it.
These times also brought a significant disruption in their lives from school closures, missed graduations, stay-at-home orders to delayed summer camps. Parents might easily brush these things off, but for children, these are the cornerstones of their childhood.
Imagine your kid who is supposed to be graduating by now. We know how graduations mean a lot to us when we were young and how much it means to them now. Not being able to experience it and share it with people they’ve been with for their school journey can be challenging to process.
We’re sure that they also miss their school, classmates, and teachers, but they might not be too eloquent to share it with us or might have difficulty in processing what they feel.
Thus, it pays to check on your kid’s mental health during this pandemic.
Listen to Them
You can start a conversation with them but learn how to listen more. If you want to talk to them, learn to listen to what they have to say. Instead of injecting your perspectives, try to let them talk more by asking follow-up questions.
This can help you understand them through their perspectives. Trying to inject your thoughts at this moment can be futile because they might think you don’t understand them.
The goal here is to understand what’s going on in their heads, and you can only do so if you get them to talk more.
Process Things One at a Time
This is a pandemic, and it is okay to feel sadness and fear. Do not bank on false positivity and be a hero by protecting them from these emotions. You have to let them handle it, and you have to feel it with them. You have to be there for them.
If you don’t let your kids feel and process these emotions, there is a tendency that they will hold onto these negative feelings. It will weigh them down more this way. By learning how to process and counter these emotions, they will be able to handle it better.
Make it Meaningful
Make your bonding moments or activities meaningful. For example, when you try to tell your kids to wash their hands, they must understand the reason behind it. Tell them that washing hands frequently is like protecting your family.
When you go out for a walk, you can help them feel the moment by asking questions about how certain things make them feel. It will be more meaningful to both of you if you add meaning to the things you share.
The structure can bring about a feeling of control and balance in your household. You can establish routines that can help them feel certainty in these uncertain times.
Try to be flexible about it. For example, your child or teen is experiencing a sleep cycle reversal. This means he/she is more awake at night and asleep the whole day. Don’t force him/her to change this immediately. Take it one step at a time.
You can encourage them to go out of their room more and discourage them from taking naps. Do this until such time your sleeping cycles will be in-tuned again.
We must learn to start accepting things, even if they are not such good ones, like the uncertainty and the possibility that things will never be “normal” again.
When we say acceptance, it means being able to start processing the realities right now. It also means accepting that the emotions we are feeling at this moment are valid. We can help our kids process their emotions if we lead the way. No one was prepared with this pandemic. We understand the uncertainty and fear that are hovering around you now. But what we do know is that it is here, and this is our current reality.
Since children might be young enough to process everything that’s going on, we, as adults, must aid them in preparing this unprecedented reality.