Just like adults, your children and their mental health are equally important. A healthy mental health during childhood is an important contributing factor to their overall wellness when they grow up.
Effect of the Pandemic on Children
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to adapt to a whole new world. If many adults are having a hard time coping with the stress that the new normal brought upon us, what more the children? They were forced off school when the pandemic hit. After that, they got used to going to school online. And now that the world is opening up again, they found themselves having to deal with classmates. And there is still the danger of having to go through a new set of restrictions again in the future.
What about those children who got infected with COVID-19? They themselves had to experience the feeling of isolation. And how about those who lost a loved one during the pandemic? And this is just about the pandemic.
Traumatic Experiences of Children
The truth of the matter is that some events that are normal for an adult such as taking care of a person who is sick can be traumatic for a child. Remember, they are just children and not yet capable of handling adult responsibilities. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are some events that can be traumatic for children. These experiences include:
- Separation of Parents
- Having a Long-Term Physical Illness
- Death of a Loved One
- Parent who has problems like Drug or Alcohol Addiction
- Physical or Sexual Abuse
- Taking on Adult Responsibilities
- Birth of A New Sibling
- Moving Homes or School
Since children are really vulnerable, these traumatic events can lead to severe emotional turmoil which can cause mental health problems in children.
Signs of Mental Stress on Children
Here are signs of mental stress on children:
- Anger Outbursts
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Sleep Disruption
What Can Parents Do?
If you see the signs being manifested in your children, there are things that you can do to intervene so that it will not become a full blown mental health issue when they grow up.
By listening to your child, you are showing them that they are important to you. It also will give them assurance that you are there for them. This in turn will build their confidence knowing that you got their back.
2. Be Involve
As a parent, your task is not just to listen. You also need to be involved. Show interest in their life. What do they love doing? Play with them. Do activities that the child enjoys. Attend school activities. Connect with them and encourage them.
3. Take Them Seriously
Many parents will listen but only a few will take them seriously. Their fears, apprehensions and difficulties are real. it may sound trivial compared to adult problems but remember they are just children. The challenges are maybe too big for them to handle. Taking them seriously means you value them.
4. Work With Others
It is important to work with other adults around them such as their teachers, caregivers and other adult members of the family. The people around your children are aware and therefore, understand them too. It is also recommended to talk with other parents or a support group who has a better understanding of how to handle such situations.
5. Create Positive Routines
Children are creatures of habits. When you create positive routines for them to follow, chances are they are going to be doing this for life. So, create positive routines. You are not only prepping them up for success; but you are also teaching them to refocus their attention and in the process overcome the negative experience.
In a nutshell, children are vulnerable. A minor event can cause severe trauma for them. And this might affect their emotional wellness until their adult lives. So as parents, it is important to validate their feelings but at the same time make them feel that you are there for them. Your love, support and understanding can do wonders to their emotional health.