Tips for Managing Mental Health for Children and Parents During the Pandemic
A pandemic is a rough time for anyone, and it can be especially difficult for families to navigate. While child counselors, teen therapists, and telehealth family therapy sessions are available to give support, there are things parents can do at home to help navigate the anxieties and frustrations.
If you are a parent in need of some navigation recommendations, here are our topic 6 pieces of advice to help you manage both your mental health and your child’s during the pandemic.
1) Manage Your Own Anxieties with Reliable Facts and Mental Health Resources
The first step to managing both your mental health and your child’s is to ensure you are focusing on facts. It is easy to doomscroll these days -- getting lost in negative headlines, seeing less than positive stats on social media, or reading in-depth articles about negative events.
Keep calm and research reliable facts from news sources you trust, and then cease your research for the day. It can have a negative impact on your mental health to keep clicking on articles and reading social media posts about the negative state of the world. Parents can do best by managing their expectations with a less-cluttered view of the current state of things.
2) Be Honest About Your Feelings and the Current Reality
As a parent, you may feel an instinctual need to protect your child from negative emotions or negative realities. Your child should receive honest information from you, however, so they can feel trusted, secure, and stable.
Whether you decide to enroll in family therapy, or you can talk frankly with your kid at home, be honest with age-appropriate responses when they ask you questions. These questions may include how you are feeling, how things are in the world, what they can expect, and more. Child therapy is of course an answer to help if your kid is focusing too much on these details, but try to talk with them openly so they have a safe source of information and someone to confide in.
3) Remember to Manage Basic Needs as part of Family Therapy -- Sleep, Activity, Healthy Meals
Family therapy focuses on relationships and mental health, and part of mental health is taking care of the base physical needs. Turning to comfort food and losing track of daily habits can be an easy slip to take, but try to maintain proper physical health. This goes especially for parents, who may lose sleep, forget to be active, and don’t make proper meals for themselves.
Just like you reinforce bedtimes for your kids, physical activities, and proper nutrition, do the same for yourself. Take a walk with your kid, try to go to bed an hour earlier (without screens!), and indulge in one well-cooked meal a week. Meeting your base needs will provide a firmer base for mental health.
4) Be a Role Model, Both in Family Therapy and in the Day to Day
You can take care of both your mental health and your child’s mental health by setting a firm example for them to follow. Of course, you should practice what you preach, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and being socially distant. This also goes for mental health care, too.
Mental health resources reinforce physical activity, taking part in hobbies, and relaxation. Show your kids how to manage stress by doing things that make you happy and taking frequent breaks. If you lead a positive life, they will strive to follow you. The same can also go for enrolling in family therapy or working with a child counselor -- if your kids are nervous about therapy, show them how powerful and rewarding it can be with a few telehealth therapy sessions of your own.
5) Stick to a Routine as Part of Your Teen’s Therapy
Routines are vital for kids of any age. If your teen is in therapy or you are working with a child counselor, work with them to set a routine. Even if you’re not enrolled in therapy in Ellicott City, a routine is important to structure, stability, and expectations.
Don’t think of a routine as every minute of the day planned and organized. Instead, have a rough outline of each day and then each week. Aim to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner around the same time. Focus on school items during the same time of day, and try to stop at the same time of day, too. If it works for you, plan for physical activities on a certain day, like Tuesday, and always have a movie on Thursday. Routine gives stability, a strong foundation, and things to look forward to.
6) Consider Family Therapy or Telehealth Sessions When in Need
The pandemic is a difficult time for a lot of people. Asking for help from The Family Center and seeking family therapy or telehealth sessions can do a lot to help you regain your confidence, perspective, and hope during a rough and uncertain year.
Some families opt for only a few sessions, while you may enroll in a longer program. Remote learning, sickness, grief, and anxiety can all be tackled, discussed, and managed. The best way to help your mental health and your kids’ is to make sure it is a priority, no matter what it takes.