Many of you are inevitably looking for ways to cope with the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. From virtual therapy sessions to online coping mechanisms, you all may have tried your fair share of DIY mental health activities. As the world begins to re-open and you imagine what form this new life may take, it is important to give attention to one of the groups of people who have been most impacted throughout the past year and a half.
Children, and specifically those of school-going ages, have had their worlds turned upside down. No school, limited social activities, few extracurriculars — and unfortunately, many children may not have the context to understand why these things happened and when they will stop. What will a post-pandemic world look like for the health of children around the world, and more importantly, what can you do to help them readjust?
In 2020, most families transitioned into a primarily “from home” type of day. Children learned, ate, and participated in activities within the home. While this way of life became familiar and comfortable, many children thrive in environments with a structure that determines what their day is going to look like. As contrary as it may seem, children prosper when boundaries and structure are in place.
As a tip, make sure that the children in your life have a clear schedule and allow them to have a say in how it is outlined. For instance, if your child enjoys playing outside before dinner, set aside a small portion of time each day for them to do so. This gives the child something to look forward to and shows them that they have some autonomy in how their day unfolds.
Autonomy is a great practice for children — and not only in designing the day. For quite some time in 2020, many parents became extremely hands-on in their children’s lives. For some, this was the first time that you had the opportunity to be with your child for extended hours throughout the week, and thus your children are feeling more dependent than ever. They are looking for help or approval on tasks that they may have previously completed all on their own.
To this end, there is a delicate balance. Practice reassuring your children and restoring confidence in their thoughts or actions. This action can be small, like congratulating young children for washing their hands or having older children pack their school bags. Each of these actions will give children a boost and set them up for success.
It is August, and the start of a new school year is quickly approaching. For many children around the world, this will mark the first full school year in person since 2018-2019. The learning never stopped, but as you know, for children, there are so many vital experiences that happen inside of school but outside of the classroom. While adults may be eager to re-enter their social world, children are feeling anxious and uneasy to return to a full-fledged school year.
To ease your child’s social anxiety for this school year, try having them practice mindfulness activities with you or alone. Research shows that mindfulness and breathing activities help children manage stress, navigate anger and cope with depression. The great news is that mindfulness exercises can be practiced in almost any setting where the child is comfortable. The exercises can also be as short or long as you’d like.
Try this short exercise in the morning: ask your child to sit or lay where they feel most comfortable and close their eyes. Ask them to focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Rather than having the child “empty” their brain of all thoughts, call them into the here and now moment, allowing thoughts to wonder if they must and then travel back to the current moment. Mindfulness activities like this one and many others are exercises for the brain that can have a huge impact on your child’s mindset as they enter into their day.
As much as the mind aids in healthy children, so does the body. Children, now more than ever, need mental and physical care so that they can be well. Outside of the activities and practices mentioned above, children must be fueling their bodies with balanced meals, exercise and sunshine, and plenty of sleep. All of these practices will help heal children’s mental health amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Preparing your child for the return to school can be difficult, not only for the student but for the parent. As a parent, there may be a lot of pressure on you to deliver when it comes to helping your child succeed. Anxiety can completely take over your life when tough situations hit, and sometimes it can seem impossible to overcome. It can even feel like you are in it alone, which isn’t the truth. There are healthcare professionals ready to help you and your family whenever you are ready. Facilities like The Kimberly Center specialize in helping people such as yourself get a better handle on life and the things that may come your way. The Kimberly Center and a strong support system can help change your life for the better, and all you have to do is contact us at (855) 452-3683. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, or addiction, you are welcome to our services.