The year 2020 was unlike any other. The suddenness of the coronavirus pandemic threw all of our children’s routines and reality into disarray. That’s why its crucial parents focus on assisting children in dealing with their emotions. Children’s interactions with their peers and adults in their communities ground to a halt as after-school programs and other social gatherings were canceled.
Children’s lives were anything but normal even as the world slowly opened again. Even when schools and daycares reopened, masks and regular quarantine closures were still necessary. Younger children, in particular, may have found the safest means of connecting and socializing with others to be less accessible or familiar.
No matter how much we tried to ease the burden, our children’s mental health suffered as a result of enduring a global pandemic.
By 2021, when the pandemic is supposedly under control, thanks to the availability of vaccines, people have reason to be optimistic. Nonetheless, our kids will still have to deal with a challenging future and will benefit from guidance as they learn to handle their feelings.
One of our most important jobs as parents is to help our kids learn to identify and manage their feelings. Though difficult, most parents are up for the challenge.
When a crisis occurs, what kinds of emotions typically surface?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that even in “typical” circumstances, many children face difficulties and stress. However, the duration of the pandemic and the accompanying panic, trepidation, and isolation were unprecedented. It’s not surprising that our kids’ “emotional and behavioral health” suffered as a result (EBH).
Minority and economically disadvantaged children’s experiences during the pandemic were compounded by their vulnerability to discrimination. Disabled or sick children need similar considerations.
Some families may have disproportionately higher levels of emotional difficulty due to factors such as unemployment, poverty, structural racism, or a lack of support systems.
Though every kid handles pressure differently, you could have seen some commonalities in how your kid handled the stress of the pandemic. Some of these problems may still be apparent in your kids. This is what the AAP says:
Younger children’s stress symptoms often take the form of regressive behaviors, such as poor sleeping, regressing on potty training, separation anxiety, and an increase in overall crankiness and irritability.
Young adults may exhibit signs of anxiety and withdrawal. Physical symptoms, such as stomachaches and headaches, may accompany their emotional changes, making them even more argumentative and hostile.
Teens can sometimes be more open and honest about their feelings, but they can sometimes be more guarded.
What Feelings Could Your Kid Be Experiencing?
Children’s responses to the pandemic and its difficulties ranged widely. Your children need to know that feeling any emotion, no matter how strong it may be, is perfectly normal.
Children may not always be open and honest about their emotions, but they may exhibit changes in behavior like increased anger or withdrawal. Some typical emotional responses to emergencies are:
- Shock and dismay at having to adjust to a new schedule, new friends, and a new environment.
- Worry that things will never get back to normal because of factors like losing loved ones or getting sick.
- Anger at the fact that a crisis is occurring, at the rapid pace at which life has altered, and at the lack of any clear answers about when it will end.
- Isolation and numbness are caused by extreme emotions such as shock, sadness, or anger.
- Sadness brought on by being alone, not having a support system, not having a routine, and missing one’s family and friends.
Your Role in Helping Your Kids Deal
Every parent feels helpless when watching their child battle with emotions. The good news is that parents may play a significant role in helping their children deal with stressful situations and emerge stronger and more resilient.
Significant and worrying indications of emotional and behavioral stress in children include lack of food, inability to sleep, strong mood swings, self-harm, or suicidal ideation. However, parents are in a prime position to alleviate their children’s stress in most instances.
Assist your young child in giving words to the feelings they’re experiencing.
It’s common for kids of all ages, particularly the youngest ones, to have trouble identifying and articulating their feelings. Providing our children with words to describe their emotions can help them get some perspective and reduce their feelings of helplessness.
Help Your Child Learn to “Sit With” Difficult Feelings.
Children’s emotional expression tends to be boisterous and out of control. However, we should never shame a youngster for expressing their emotions.
Instead, make it clear that you are a safe place for them to vent their emotions and offer them room to do so. To tell a child to stop crying or that their emotions, such as anger and anxiety, are not okay to feel just makes the situation worse. Explain to your youngster that it’s okay to feel this way and that expressing themselves will make them feel better.
Stick to your normal schedule.
Children feel more at ease and adapt better to change when they have some stability in their lives. The mental and physical well-being of children can be greatly improved by establishing and maintaining a consistent routine for their eating and sleeping habits. Always go to bed at the same hour every night. If at all possible, try to eat as a family and try to keep your child’s schedule consistent.
In times of increased stress for your children, you may find that meditation is a helpful tool for you to employ. Meditation can help you get in the mood for the day or wind down before bed.
If you and your child meditate daily, you might be able to help them relax when they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed at school. It’s an excellent method for restoring peace of mind in the face of adversity.
Inculcate a sense of compassion and appreciation.
Your child’s feelings throughout the pandemic need not be completely bad. It’s possible that with your guidance, your kiddo can develop a more compassionate and appreciative outlook.
Although your child’s life has changed significantly over the past year, they should be thankful for having caring parents, a safe and comfortable place to live, and, let’s be honest, access to the internet.
Your support will be invaluable while your child deals with the pain of loss.
Your kid very certainly knew someone who passed away during the pandemic, or they themselves may have experienced grief. Depending on the specifics, you might be able to handle this on your own, or you could need the assistance of a grieving counselor.
Keep in mind that children react to loss in a variety of ways. As they try to work over their sorrow, they may display hostile or reclusive behavior. Allowing your child the time and space to express their emotions and ask difficult questions about death and loss is, as always, an excellent idea.
You are not alone if you find raising a child during the epidemic to be incredibly difficult. Concerns for our children’s emotional well-being and worry about the virus caused us all a lot of stress and strain.
It’s crucial to take care of your own mind and body; if you’re feeling overwhelmed, your kids will sense it and experience similar difficulties in coping with their own lives.
That’s why it’s essential to look after your own mental health in addition to the mental health of your kids. Taking better care of yourself can improve things. But when support is needed, it’s crucial to look outside. If you are having mental health issues that are interfering with your daily life or your ability to parent your children effectively and compassionately, please get professional help.