May 11th by Linette Gary
Life as we know it has changed, not only for us, but for our children as well. Although I don’t have school aged children I know distance learning is an area where a lot of my family, friends, and clients are struggling with.
I touched base with Britty, a mama of two boys and former therapist who worked with children, to see if she could help us understand our children’s feelings and how to help them cope with them.
Britty explains that anxiety and depression can be a normal response to stress. However, when we are experiencing extreme stress our brain doesn’t function the same.
This means that certain brain functions, like our cognitive functioning, begins to be impacted meaning our logic, judgement, language and critical thinking are not the same. Also, during times of extreme stress we lose control, lose our sense of predictability and things feel chaotic.
This is why your child may not be learning or adjusting to distance school learning which according to psychology, is a normal reaction to stress.
Some signs your kids may be experiencing a stress response are:
-changes in eating
-changes in sleep
-bad dreams or nightmares
-attempts to control things (this may look like power struggles)
-less interest/joy in activities they like
-seeming to be numb/have no feelings or seeming to have more extreme emotional expression
-expressions of hopelessness (“this is never going to get better)
-being more jumpy/irritable/on edge
Ways Britty shares we can help our children cope:
1) Take care of your own emotional needs. Sure, self care is great but I’m not talking bubble baths and meditation. I’m talking about being aware of your own signs of stress response, anxiety and depression and do your best to cope with things like positive self talk, deep breaths, identifying when the last time you ate/drank water/moved your body/went to the bathroom etc, take deep breaths, remove yourself from the situation(when safe) and take a breather.
2) Be patient with them. This is hard for them.
3) Validate/acknowledge/label their feelings. It may seem like this shouldn’t be hard for them because they are kids and don’t “have real problems” yet. But this is their real problem. Not seeing friends, not going to school are things that should be devastating for their age. Validating doesn’t mean you agree it just means you get where they are coming from.
4) Stay their safe people. Keep routines and structure the same as much as possible but in a flexible way.
Resources Britty Shares:
- Resources: SD access and crisis line 888-724-7240
- Suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN.org) has great information for parents
If there’s one thing that’s reassuring is that we are all going through this together. If you’re in need of support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional or you’re always welcome to join our Mother”hood” Community here.
Thanks for tuning in,