Taking care of your children’s mental health

Now that Metro Manila is still in the midst of a lockdown due to the pandemic, and have yet to see its imminent end, many of us are already experiencing boredom, loneliness, and exhaustion due to the cancellation of our usual lives. The most prone to this problem, other than adults, are children.

Minors are among those who are severely prohibited from going out during the pandemic. As a result, many of our children are adjusting to significant changes in their surroundings.

Impact on health and social-emotional development

Mental health during a pandemic is one of the things every family member should watch out for. Because of the long confinement of many of us in our homes and the lack of healthy activities, the resistance of many to various types of illness — whether physical or mental — is weakened.

Many Filipino families, mostly of whom are children, have been severely affected by the transition. Parents have been very concerned about their children’s learning and their human development. Due to the coronavirus, they study virtually and interact far from each other. Does it affect their social-emotional development? The answer is yes.At present, mild signs of anxiety, like difficulty in sleeping or concentrating, have been observed more frequently in children. Other behavioral symptoms are also seen more in children lately, such as:

• Children less than 5 years old – thumb sucking, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, regression in behavior or withdrawal from interaction.

• 5 to 10 years old – irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, poor concentration and withdrawal from activities and friends.

• Adolescents – hyperactivity or fidgeting, eating and sleep disturbances, agitation, increased conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior and poor concentration.

Children’s interactions in class and at home will change because the two are almost in the same environment. But even so, there are some things that should be in your children’s mental health tool kits, no matter what kind of education they have. The good news is parents, with the right dedication, can do something to prevent mental health problems in their children.

1. Recognize their need

Mental health and physical health support each other for good overall health. Parents should make sure their children are eating properly and getting enough sleep. It is important to make it a routine of eating, sleeping, and waking up at the same time every day so that their body can get used to this system.

2. Developing their identity

It is essential that a child has established beliefs and morals. Because there are many people with different beliefs and different backgrounds in their education, whether home-school or formal education, it is important for an individual to have a broad mindset and attitude such as compassion.

3. Understanding their different emotions

Controlling one’s emotions is another trait that children should learn at home. Their mental wellness will be built on this foundation. If the family focuses on it at home, especially teaching how to comprehend and act on emotions like anger and grief, the family may be very helpful.

Given that children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives, it is also important that the adults manage their own emotions as well.

4. Make your house a secure and happy environment

Keep track of your child’s media use, including both the content and the amount of time spent in front of a device. This includes television, movies, internet, and gaming consoles. Keep an eye on who they’re connecting with on social media and in online gaming. Engage them in creative activities, this way enabling them to have another outlet in expressing themselves.

Be cautious when addressing major family concerns with your children, such as economics, marital troubles, or illness. These items can cause concern among children

5. Assist children and teenagers in developing self-esteem so they may feel good about themselvesExhibit a lot of love and acceptance. When they perform well, compliment them. Recognize their efforts as well as their accomplishments. Ask about their hobbies and interests. Help them in setting attainable goals.6. Open CommunicationIt is important to be calm and proactive in your conversations with children. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and reach out to a trusted friend or family member.

Whether or not the pandemic puts this bond and connection to the test, in order to help children, parents must ensure that they are by their children’s side in times of need. Above all, children should not be the only ones under parental supervision. Parents and guardians should also be careful of themselves, because the difficulty of this period affects more than just young people. We are not, once again, alone. We must be good to ourselves and those around us.