The continuous worry, anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has had an emotional toll on all of us, but many children and teenagers, even those in primary and secondary schools, have had a particularly difficult time coping.
Even with the protection of the COVID-19 vaccinations now accessible to children who are old enough, pandemic-related stress and traumas may have long-term consequences for children and teenagers’ growing minds.
Stress and mental health issues manifest themselves differently for each child or teen, but some common signs are:
- Slow progress in abilities and developmental milestones may be seen in infants, toddlers, and young children. However, they may also exhibit increased fussiness and irritability, be more readily startled and scream, and be more difficult to soothe.
- Having trouble falling asleep and waking up a lot during the night.
- Increased nipping, more reflux, constipation or loose stools, or new complaints of stomach discomfort are all signs of a feeding problem.
- Separation anxiety, clinginess, social withdrawal, hesitation to explore, and dread of stepping outside are all symptoms of separation anxiety.
- More frequent or dramatic outbursts, including kicking, frustration, and biting.
- Even after they’ve been toilet trained, kids may start bedwetting again.
- During play, there may be conflict and hostility, and themes such as disease and death.
Adolescents and Older Children
- Older kids like those in national and private secondary schools may exhibit indications of distress, such as mood swings, persistent irritation, feelings of hopelessness or anger, and frequent disputes with friends and family.
- Behavioural adjustments, such as taking a step back from personal relationships. It’s cause for concern if your normally extroverted youngster displays little interest in spending time texting or video chatting with their buddies.
- A lack of interest in previously liked activities. Did your music-loving teenager, for example, suddenly lose interest in practising the guitar?
- Having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, or constantly falling asleep.
- Changes in appetite, weight, or eating habits, such as never being hungry or overeating
- Memory, reasoning, and attention issues are all common.
- There is a decrease in academic effort and enthusiasm towards homework.
- Lack of basic personal hygiene, for example, might cause changes in appearance (within reason, since many are doing slightly less grooming during this time at home).
- A rise in dangerous or irresponsible conduct, such as the use of drugs or alcohol
- Suicide or death thoughts, or talking about it.
How to Support Your Child’s Mental Health During Covid-19
- Discuss the current COVID-19 situation with your child. Let them know that vaccines are now available.
- In a way that your youngster understands, answer their questions and offer facts about COVID-19.
- Calm your child’s fears by assuring them that they are secure. Let them know it’s all okay if they’re upset. Share how you deal with stress with them to learn how to deal with stress from you.
- Limit their exposure to the event’s news coverage, including on social media. Children may misunderstand what they hear and become fearful of something they don’t comprehend.
- Attempt to stick to a regular schedule. Create a timetable for learning activities as well as relaxing or entertaining activities if schools are closed.
- Be a role model for others. Take frequent pauses, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and eat healthily. Make contact with your friends and relatives.
- Engage in meaningful activities with your child, such as reading together, exercising, and playing board games.
In a Nutshell
The tone of the home is set by the parents. Your children may be affected if you express excessive dread or terror. Staying optimistic might be difficult, especially if you’re dealing with your stress.
However, strive to maintain an optimistic attitude and send forth continuous reminders that a better future awaits. Setting aside time to care for yourself and seeking the support you may require for your mental health is beneficial.
The practice of mindfulness, concentrating on the present moment, yoga, and stretching may all aid in the development of coping skills for the entire family.
Now that schools are still closed in Malaysia, including national schools, international schools, private primary schools and private secondary schools, spending quality family time together is a wise way to get through the pandemic.
Include time for the entire family to connect and unwind, such as napping, watching a movie, or simply spending time together.