Written by therapist Bria McCalpin
Being a parent during a pandemic can be just as stressful for your children and teenagers as it has been for you. You do your best to ensure your children are being taken care of, whether that be by helping them with homework, making sure they are being fed or getting their 8 hours of sleep. As adults, we are more likely to notice we are stressed and learn how to cope with it, but most children do not. Experiences like going to school virtually and not being able to socialize with friends can contribute to any anxiety and/or tension they can be facing. How children may choose to cope looks different for each child, but some instances could be self-isolation, finding comfort in social media, taking frequent naps, or hopefully discussing their frustrations with a friend or family member. If you have already worked on encouraging your children’s wellbeing, here are a few refreshers on ways you can aid in boosting your children’s mental and emotional health.
Having Open Dialogue
Promoting open communication with your children is one of the most significant ways you can support them. Children should know you are an option to turn to when they want to express their feelings about specific problems. However, for this to be a valuable interaction, being a good, reflective listener is essential. To be a good listener is to listen to hear, not to respond, choosing to not interrupt, and being engaging. As a listener, you ask questions and offer support, so your child feels connected to you and believes you are attempting to understand their struggles.
Avoid pushing your child to share. Even if they are unresponsive to your efforts, avoid taking offense. Though it may hurt your feelings that your child is not seeking you out, you can continue to foster dialogue without discussing what is bothering them the most. This encouragement can be simply stating you are there for them and their needs or incorporating these skills when they are talking about other topics interesting to them like TV shows, video games, or friends.
Incorporating Coping Techniques
Teaching your child healthy methods of coping is essential to your child’s mental health. Coping techniques could look like physical activity, meditation, or spending time together with family members to name a few. Introducing skills such as these can help your child combat anxiety, anger, stress, or other negative emotions. When teaching your children about coping skills, it is beneficial to practice these skills yourself and with your children. By applying these techniques, you and your children can enjoy the positive benefits correlated with these skills, such as better moods and self-esteem increase.
Seek Professional Help
You know your child and are mindful of your child’s behavior. If your child is usually excited and hyper but is now quiet and anxious, this mood change can be concerning and a sign of more serious mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Some indications could be withdrawing from social interactions, talk of hopelessness, aggressive behaviors, or expressing thoughts of self-harm. Before getting nervous about your child’s actions, it is possible some signs may not be critical and diminish over time. Nevertheless, if you think your child is dealing with severe mental concerns, talk to your child’s primary physician or ask for a therapist.
It is crucial to ensure your children are gaining support from you as a parent/caregiver. Sometimes, that may be obtaining a therapist for your child individually or family therapy for extra assistance. Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists!