Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the world suddenly experienced an abrupt and drastic change. The impact of this pandemic has disrupted our everyday lives. Schools and universities have shifted to online learning, our workspaces have shifted to our homes and social distancing has mirrored social isolation. This has left many struggling to maintain a routine and sense of structure, especially those families with children at home. This loss of stability has impacted our sense of physical and emotional safety.
During this pandemic, we have seen an increase in reports of mental health symptoms including anxiety, depression and trauma. The increased levels of stress and anxious symptoms have impacted children and their caregivers. Parents are now juggling more roles than ever. The level stress that parents are enduring can directly affect their children and their responses can vary. Some children may display difficulties with independent living skills, becoming clingy or even irritable, and display an increased need for attention from others.
Some ways to support emotional and overall well -being during these challenging times:
Social Distancing, not Social Isolation
It is critical for children to have quality time with important people in their lives including caregivers and their peers. Social connectedness is vital for children to foster resiliency, and develop communication and social skills. Creative ways to encourage social connection during these times can include:
- Write postcards or letters to friends, family, or those in nursing homes seeking connection.
- Schedule weekly Facetime/zoom calls
- Join a virtual Support Group
- Enjoy time outdoors with small groups of friends and family while maintaining 6 feet of distance and wearing a mask
- Create window art to share with neighbors
- Participate in or organize neighborhood scavenger hunts
- Participate in virtual Micro-Volunteer opportunities here:
Children’s well-being is affected by their caregiver’s well-being. Caregivers must take the time to care for themselves and participate in activities that rejuvenate and re-energize them so they are available to care for others. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Dedicate at least 20-30 minutes every day to participate in an activity that you enjoy.
Highlight Hope, Positivity and Strengths
Feeling safe, secure, and hopeful for the future is especially important during these times. Parents and caregivers can develop these feelings in themselves and their children through storytelling. Read stories or share personal experiences about overcoming adversity and solving difficult problems.
Seek Professional Support
Changes in behavior and emotional states are to be expected from children and adults during this pandemic. If you continue to experience or observe others experiencing distressing emotions or behaviors including increased anxiety, depression, agitation, or other feelings that do not subside, please seek professional support. Mental health professionals can provide counseling services and guidance on how to navigate these difficult emotions, how to facilitate difficult conversations, and provide support during these difficult times. At Counseling Works, we provide both in-person and telehealth options to all of our clients to ensure client safety and your individual needs. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a therapist, please do so here.
Written By: Danielle Williams, LPC