It’s been a roller coaster of a year, and just when we thought we could breathe a little bit easier, the world is turning upside down again.
As we approach year 3 of COVID and parents juggling work/home demands, sheltering in place or quarantining, and monitoring our own emotional well-being, it can be easy to overlook or lose sight of the emotional well-being of our children.
As parents, although tired and frustrated with how the new variants affect your ability to enjoy a semblance of normal, you have probably considered how confusing this all must be for your children – especially those who can’t understand and/or articulate their fears.
Our children sense our stress and anxiety which may very possibly lead to fear, regression, acting out or depression. We might not overtly verbalize our fears but we must always be mindful of our non-verbal cues and the messages we inadvertently send through our own body language. Children who cannot easily communicate their feelings may express their fears, anxieties and stress through their body language, non-verbal cues (which can be easily missed) and/or behaviors. It’s difficult to watch a non-verbal child struggle with fear and anxiety without being able to effectively calm their fears.
Maintaining consistent routines is comforting for children in even the most “normal” situation but especially important during these stressful times. Change and unexpected transitions are especially tough for some children to understand and negotiate. The following are just a few non-verbal cues to be aware of, especially with children who have communication deficits: Irritability, nail-biting, inconsistent sleep patterns, tantrums, somatic complaints, bed-wetting, fidgetiness.
The best we can do as parents is be aware of any changes in behavior, create a calm and safe environment and assure our children that we are doing the best we can to keep them, and us, safe and healthy and that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
This is their normal, at least for now. If you see signs of fear, regression, depression or episodes of acting out, we can provide resources that can provide supportive intervention for you and your child. Always remember that we are here to support you.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and safe New Year!