Our children’s mental health is a very crucial matter nowadays. They are growing up in a world with physical distancing, people wearing masks, and loving from a distance. When we started our families, none of us ever thought that we will be raising our children in this kind of world. But it is where it is and we can only do so much to help our children cope with the current pandemic and beyond.
Checking Our Children’s Mental Health
We have been constantly talking about mental health ever since the community lockdowns happened due to the pandemic.
One sector of the society that has been hit the hardest is our children–the young people. Our children have been the busiest before Covid-19 happened. They go to school every day, play with friends, have activities left and right, go to parties, and have family outings every weekend.
Then suddenly, everything was suspended until further notice. Children who attended traditional schools were forced to take online classes or shift to modular lessons.
At first, everyone enjoyed the rest. But as the weeks turned to months and we are now entering the second year, people are getting bored and listless. And what is becoming of our children with all those pent-up energies they have? Your child might need more support at this time.
How to Check on Your Child’s Mental Health
Our family had been homeschooling for 7 years now, so the impact of the stopping of classes didn’t affect us. Our children are used to staying at home and doing their lessons in their bedroom. The use of PACEs under the School of Tomorrow continues.
However, my children do miss their playdates with friends as well as their activities back then, like their ballet classes and art workshops. Plus, what they really miss are our family vacations. We used to travel a lot as a family before the pandemic.
Here are some ways we can check and gauge our children’s mental health.
Talk to Them
Since we are home most of the time anyway, allot a few minutes each day or even every few days and sit down with your kids. Talking could also be done during mealtimes, when everyone is seated comfortably around the table.
Ask leading questions about the pandemic and genuinely listen to what your children have to say. You may not have all the answers but talking things out reinforces your relationship and builds their confidence in you.
Let Them Write in Journals
Give your children nice notebooks and encourage them to write their thoughts. If you have boys, you might get one-liners, but who knows, they might discover their talent in writing.
Get Them to Draw their Emotions
Another good way to get your children to communicate their feelings is to let them draw their emotions. Check out what my goddaughter Gianna Villarosa drew last year. Pretty much sums up how she feels right?
Making Sure to Keep the Kids Well at Home
It is without a doubt that we take care of our children and we try to keep them healthy by feeding them nutritious foods. And if you are like me, you also probably find ways and means to get them to move in order to be physically active.
Keep communication lines open.
Connect with you children in all ages. Their communication levels differ so you may have to talk do different children at different times.
Try to keep them involved in housework.
Engage the kids in housework and make it a family activity rather than as a chore. They will enjoy the experience, learn practical skills, and you also get the home tidy. Plus, in a few years, this training will also lighten your household chores.
Limit their use of gadgets.
The pandemic and lack of outdoor activities are not reasons for you and your kids to just stay glued to your gadgets. It’s not healthy for their eyes and minds plus the use of gadgets replace human interaction. The games and social media make us more interested on the screen than what’s going on with the little person beside us.
Don’t give in to everything they ask for.
Just because you feel bad that they can’t go out to see friends doesn’t mean that you give in to everything that you child asks for. Of course, there are leeways but I hope that we will have the discernment to determine whether they are already using the situation to manipulate us.
Allow flexibility in learning.
Sometimes, school lessons can be boring or too much. You can take breaks or complete lessons using another method.
Teach them new skills.
It doesn’t matter what. You could be the teacher or you can both be students. But learning a new skill is very therapeutic plus it adds to your personal arsenal.
Put a limit to their school work so that they will not be overwhelmed.
I have read of parents complaining about how much schoolwork their children are trying to complete in the new normal. But there is no use overwhelming the kids that they are not doing anything else throughout the day. Set a limit and make sure that they get enough rest. Sleep is very important.
As family, have a prayer time with your kids. Allow them to pray their own prayers–it is also one way for you to determine how they are. We usually do ours at night, before bedtime, so that they can thank the Lord for His blessings and grace throughout the day.
I don’t know what your idea of fun is. You can take a road trip or sing karaoke. Say silly jokes and laugh. Do them safely at home. Even when you are vaccinated, we are still not sure that we won’t get sick, so let’s still be careful. The sooner that we can accept that this is already our new normal, the better for us to cope and change our ways.