How to Take Care of Your Child Mental Health Once Lockdown Lifts
Date : Jun 09, 2020
Author : DR A Zayed
COVID-19 has brought a wave of uncertainty. It’s normal for a child to feel anxious, terrified, or worried after a sudden change in their daily routine. The longer the epidemic remains an issue, the bigger the chances of triggering anxieties and struggles. But, when the lockdown restrictions get lifted, that’s when we can finally grasp its impact on a childrens mental health.
Here, we will delve deeper into the psychological state of the child after quarantine. How to give them the right mental health support to get back to a usual way of life and when to ask for help. But first, we must fully comprehend the impact all the restrictions have on a child’s mental well-being.
How the Restrictions Will Affect Childrens Mental Health After Lockdown?
Children’s mental health will most likely be taking a downward spiral. The moment the restrictions get lifted, the younger population is expected to experience high rates of anxiety and depression, stated Dr Maria Loades, an expert psychologist for ITV Report. Loneliness will leave the most significant impact.
As a result, experts suggest parents remain alert and recognize any mood changes, distress, depression, or signs of anxiety. These behavioural changes will most likely be evident on the first day of school.
According to the doctor, there is a link between depression and loneliness, particularly for the younger population. It can have both short and long term effects. In some cases, it can take years before a child shows a sudden change in mental health.
As a result, experts suggest parents remain alert and recognize any red flags. These behavioural changes will most likely be evident on the first day of school.
Childrens Mental Health Red Flags
Certain signs can signal if your child is going through behavioural or emotional changes. Here is a list of all the red flags that indicate a steady decline in childrens mental health:
• Constant troubles at school, daycare, at home, or with friends
• Feelings of hopelessness and sadness that won’t disappear
• Drawn-out negative attitudes
• Loss of focus
• Change in eating patterns
• Constant nightmares
• Violence and anger towards items, animals, and people
• Strange behaviours or beliefs
• Inability to deal with their problems
• Constant refusal to attend school
• Intentional disobedience
• Engaging in dangerous situations
• The constant shortage of energy
• No remorse
In many cases, a child can experience multiple symptoms. Often, it could be the result of a significant life change, like parents’ divorce, death of a family member, and life-threatening disease. Whatever the case, it is essential to accept these changes and find a way to overcome the problem.
6 Ways to Provide Proper Mental Health Support for Your Young One
Back to school will take some getting used to. This is what we call a transition period. Children will have to get used to the phase and slowly adapt to communicating with their friends. There are a few tactics you can use to make the process a little bit easier.
1. Establish a Routine
Life has to feel normal. But, no matter how difficult the situation may be, every child needs to have responsibilities. These responsibilities keep them busy and organized. In other words, it provides a sense of security.
So, draft a visual timetable and determine the things they have to do for the day. For example, when they have to exercise, do homework, chores, play, and relax.
2. Get Them to Talk With Peers Before School
For the youngest, it’s crucial to implement playful ways for them to reconnect with friends. Encourage your child to play with a handful of their peers before school. So, they won’t find it difficult to just jump into an overcrowded environment.
This tactic can help the child overcome social boundaries gradually. Eventually, they will feel comfortable in a new environment.
3. Give Them a “Feelings Diary”
A child needs to identify and understand their feelings. You can help them achieve that. So, whenever they feel discouraged, sad, or happy, you will know about it. Here is an example:
4. Encourage Relaxing Activities
This can be their “Feelings Diary”. The goal is to fill up each chart with feelings for every day of the week. It can help you get a clear picture of your child’s emotional state.
Getting back to school can put any child on edge. The key to getting them to calm down is to encourage them to do relaxing activities. They can:
• Use stress toys
• Take a bubble bath
• Do easy exercises
5. Make a Coping Toolbox
When taking care of young children, you need to get creative and find a way to help them unwind. That can be achieved with a handmade Coping Toolbox. This is an effective method for encouraging positive feelings.
All you have to do is get a container or a box and decorate it. Then, explain to your child that they have to fill the container with all the right things. Anything that reminds them of positive feelings, like a picture, gift, CD, teddy bear, etc.
Whenever they feel sad, they should open up the container and take one thing out. No matter what they pick, the container will evoke positive emotions.
6. Use a Worry Jar
Some children will directly ask about any problem. But, others are less willing to open up and express their concerns. It’s normal for a child to be worried immediately after lockdown. Besides, all their routines and activities have changed. Providing them with a Worry Jar will help them express themselves.
It’s a creative way to get them to talk about their feelings without being judged. All you have to do is find a container or a jar and ask your child to decorate it for you. This will draw them in and help them use the jar. When you are done, pick 10 to 15 min a day specially dedicated to filling up the Worry Jar.
Ask your child to write on a piece of paper whatever is troubling them. Set a timer to make the Worry Time feel more impactful. When they are done, close the lid. This will give them the impression that all their worries are put away.
They are no longer there to trouble them. When that worry is no longer on their mind, ask your child to take out the piece of paper where they wrote their problems and throw it away. This will give them a sense of accomplishment.
But don’t forget to read their worries. Make sure you know what their troubles are so you will tailor each conversation to their benefit.
When to Contact Mental Health Services?
There is a significant difference between a bad mood and depression. If you notice that your child is continuously feeling unhappy, discouraged, or demotivated, you should seek help from child mental health services, advises the NHS. Remember, prolonged behavioural changes are a red mental health flag.
The longer the problem remains untreated, the more complicated it becomes, eventually escalating into a severe mental disorder. If you are unsure what kind of help you need, you can ask a GP for a referral. Contact any mental health support services in your local area.
The current pandemic creates difficult emotional boundaries for the younger population. But, every problem can be fixed as long as you have the right approach. All the tips we listed above can help you achieve precisely that.