Caring for Your Children’s Mental Health During COVID-19: Be Present, Be Aware – National
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact the mental health and well-being of children and youth.
Many school-aged children developed mental health problems during the pandemic, according to a recent SickKids study. This includes depression (37.6%), anxiety (38.7%), irritability (40.5%) and attention span (40.8%).
Parenting expert Alyson Schafer says for parents it is important to be aware and know how the pandemic has presented increased mental health issues for their children.
She says there’s a connection between parental mental health and children’s mental health as well – and it can go both ways.
“It’s two-way. If one of you is in pain, you are going to have an impact on the other, so children to parents, parents to children, ”she said. “No one is immune from this. We have to have our eyes on it. “
Paediatricians urge Ontario to reopen outdoor activities for children’s mental health
As for what parents should look for, Schafer says the general rule is to trust their instincts when they see persistent issues that are interfering with their child’s functioning.
“You might want to look for things like changes in the way they eat. They can eat a lot, not eat at all, or hide food, ”she says.
80% of Canadians Support COVID-19 Vaccine Passports for Travel: Survey
Why are people reporting irregular periods after COVID-19 vaccine? Experts explain.
‘Children are not doing well’ – Mental health of Ontario children deteriorates during COVID-19
Further, Schafer cites as examples changes in sleep patterns, difficulty getting out of bed, excessive physical activity, and a sudden drop in school grades – “anything that seems to avoid, evade or isolate itself.”
“If you see a sudden drop. It’s a real sign, ”she says. “We have hobbies that we should like or see our friends about and when that goes down, that’s a real concern.”
Schafer also stresses that any comments they make – for example, about self-hatred – should be taken seriously.
To ensure good mental health for children, Schafer says prevention is essential.
‘There is so much pain’ – Art shows COVID-19 mental toll on young people, expert says
“Good mental health is supported by having good, healthy relationships, so maintain your relationship with your children,” she says, stressing the importance of making them feel socially connected.
Providing routines or a schedule that involves exercise, nutrition, family time, and fun can also help, she adds.
“Stimulate hobbies and interests outside of school, as schoolwork is targeted as one of their main stressors,” she says.
“Parents haven’t changed their expectations of their children. In fact, they’ve been around the school and it has been identified as one of the main crushers of children’s minds right now.
‘It’s a parallel pandemic’ – What loneliness does to our mental health
Speaking of mental health to children, Schafer says like physical health: We cannot take mental health for granted and if help is needed, it should be taken care of.
She cites resources like mental health professionals and Kids Help Phone, but also emphasizes finding something to do as a family that promotes good mental health.
“It can be doing daily meditations every night at bedtime, as kids really have a hard time falling asleep when they have a mental health disorder, so learn to do it together on an app,” says -it.
“Be a benefactor for the community, donate to a food bank, or collect toys and donate them to a toy drive for your family – anything you can do to help.”
Watch Schafer’s full interview with “The Morning Show” in the video above.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.