The lockdown can trigger a lot of traumatic thought processes for your children such as the fear of them or their loved ones being infected, receiving medical treatment or dying. Their daily routine has been disrupted just like the adults. The structure and stimulation schools provide is gone as well as the social support from their friend circle. The pandemic has put everyone on the edge, and this puts additional pressure on the parents.
This makes it the perfect time to sit down with your child and assuage their fears and worries by discussing mental health and care with them. Having a proper grip and knowledge on mental health can lead to developing resilience and becoming well-rounded and emotionally healthy adults. Being informed decreases the anxiety that comes from the uncertainty and mystery of it all. This way the youth will have a more objective and rational approach.
Here are a few pointers on how to get the ball rolling and the conversation started:
1. Start with yourself. Recognize your own mental health. Take care of yourself and start by discussing your feelings to create a rapport with your child. Educate yourself on different topics pertaining to mental health and illness before talking to your child.
2. Select a familiar backdrop. To make the conversation more casual and comfortable let them choose the setting. It could be outside on the swings; while throwing the ball around; or while having a meal or snack.
3. Be discreet and mindful when discussing serious family issues of the likes of finances, marital problems or ailments around your children. This can fuel their stress and anxiety. Be vigilant of their condition and the issues they are facing. Traumatic circumstances can trigger problems for people who are vulnerable.
4. Don't let them feel bad for thoughts they might think are wrong, immoral or selfish. Children often vent their feelings via anger which is fuelled by the guilt they often feel by their musings. Comfort them in this regard by telling them that brooding over certain ideas and concepts is natural and to not let these overwhelm them.
5. Ground the issue of mental health by showing how it manifests itself into physical symptoms. Ask them if they have noticed how their heart beats faster and they start sweating when nervous or scared. Thus concluding that their thoughts and feelings have an impact on their body.
6. The environment at home should be healthy and supportive. Boost their self-esteem. Don't let the cultural stigma around mental health corrupt your household. Open discussions can end this stigma before it starts to breed.
7. Don't brush aside their feelings and emotions as being petty or trivial. Put yourself in their shoes and then assess the severity of the issue. Shower them with love, acceptance and recognition towards their problems.
8. Keep asking them questions to get them talking and expressing themselves. Attuning and acknowledgment of feelings will encourage them to open themselves to you. What they are looking for is empathy and understanding, not solutions. Psychological issues never present black-and-white solutions.
There's no perfect way of life for everyone out there. Mental health is about striking a perfect balance in life, and this balance looks different for every individual.
Stay Tuned, Stay Relevant!