The coronavirus has been affecting many people around the world. It also caused numerous casualties, leaving families and friends alike in grief and anxiety. This pandemic affects our mental health too. Constant exposure to negative news, like the rising death rates, results in mental and emotional distress in adults and children.
How This Pandemic Affects Your Child’s Mental Health
Trends suggest that children are less vulnerable, compared to people age 18 and up, to the coronavirus. However, they are not entirely immune to the mental health problems that arise from sudden, prolonged quarantine, and of course, the consistent exposure to negative news. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that you can watch out for to check whether your child is experiencing mental distress.
- Nightmares And Bedwetting
The news about this pandemic has been painting gloom and hopelessness in adults and children alike. This gloom burrows in the minds of our young, causing bad dreams and nightmares. Having nightmares is one of the signs of mental distress in our children and is more common in younger children. As a result, they may start to redo some things that have already outgrown, like bedwetting.
Anxiety in children sometimes causes clinginess. You may observe that your child may continuously seek for your attention and your touch for comfort against their stress. You may also expect sudden tearfulness and tantrums when they don’t get what they want.
- Sleep And Appetite Changes
Nightmares may be more frequent in younger children, but they also affect your older ones and the teens, causing sleep changes. Some of them may oversleep (hypersomnia) or have less sleep. Others will even have difficulty sleeping (insomnia). Others may have adjustments in their body clocks, making them nocturnal or more active in the night, instead of being vigorous in the day.
Not only does it change their sleeping patterns, but it also affects their eating habits. Loss of appetite or overeating is some coping mechanisms that your teens may do.
In teens, instead of being clingy, they may become more withdrawn and isolate themselves. Although this is common in growing teens because of the different changes that happen in their bodies, in these times, self-isolation may be anxiety induced.
How To Help Your Child Deal With This Pandemic
When you see these symptoms in your children, here are some ways that you can do to help them in facing their fears and anxieties.
- Talk With Your Children About It
One of the ways that you can do to help your children face these issues is by talking to them about it. Acknowledging their anxiety will aid them in better understanding what they are feeling. According to Jamie D. Aten, Ph.D., “since children are constantly exposed to COVID-19 related news which could alleviate their anxiety and panic, parents need to create direct conversations with children about these issues to avoid panic and reduce anxiety.”
- Limit TV Time
As the news is one of the common causes of panic and anxiety in our young, limiting their TV time will also help them a lot. Instead of watching the television, you may introduce family activities to keep them entertained and involved. You may instead do reading aloud sessions for your younger children. Or play board games or other party games that are appropriate for kids of all ages. Alternatively, you may also do cooking or baking activities with them, and even try learning new skills with them.
- Take Your Time-out
As parents, we always worry about our family’s welfare, and this fretting does not only affect us but also our children. Your reactions towards the negative information that you receive models how your children should react about it as well. Therefore, you should also prioritize your mental health. You can do this by having your time-outs that you can spend talking with a friend, or exercising, among others.
Your children will not always be able to identify what they are feeling; that’s why they cannot quickly seek your help. So, it is crucial for you, as their parent, to watch out for the symptoms and to act accordingly. Your child will need you now more than ever.