The pandemic did a number on all of us, but the effect it had on our kids was unique. In addition to being isolated from friends and most of their adult role models, so many of them lost critical in-school and social development time and were then expected to just pick up where they left off.
Younger children are struggling to regulate their emotions. Teens are suffering panic attacks. Kids of all ages are feeling more pressure, anxiety, and depression, and are resorting to unhealthy, impulsive behaviors to relieve stress, including substance use and self-harm. Many are increasingly withdrawing from the world around them, including their loved ones.
If this sounds familiar to you, you’re far from alone. The good news is that you can help, starting right in your own home.
Communication, as always, is key. Whether it’s at the dinner table or somewhere else, it’s so important to talk to each other and do things together as a family. The more open the lines of communication, the better. You’ll be even more in tune to your kids, both in general and when something seems wrong. And if you want them to open up, you need to open up, as well. You can actually be a great role model simply by letting them see you as a real, vulnerable person with your own bad days.
When something is wrong, mindfulness goes a long way—for kids and parents alike. When frustrated, a distraction activity or thinking about something pleasant can bring momentary happiness and reset the brain. It’s OK to get angry or upset, but we need to control our behaviors and make decisions with a clear head. It can even help to let them pick their own healthy coping mechanism—happy thoughts, games, outdoor play, etc.
If needed, the experts at Rosecrance can provide a professional, empathetic ear that can get your child to open up a little differently, and with a clean slate. Kids are pretty resilient, and with the right support system, they’ll flourish. If that includes professional help, that’s OK. Remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent, only those who provide their kids everything they can: time, support, love, and all the tools they need.
If someone you know is—or has—a kid struggling with mental health issues, check out episode 7 of the Rosecrance podcast “On Your Radar,” which covers the mental health challenges our kids are facing post-pandemic, and the various ways we can help them.
Listen to “How Do We Help Our Kids?” HERE.