St. Williams Mental Health Services

What About the Kids?

How are kids dealing with the CoVid-19?  Being locked down is a difficult proposition, but especially for our kids.  Kids are used to playing with their friends, being active, going to school and not necessarily focusing on world events as their parents are.  I mean, it is their parents’ job, right? Not there’s.  However, don’t be fooled.  With Co-VID-10, those of smaller stature have experienced their worlds as having been turned upside down these past few weeks.

First, they are home-bound.  They have limited access with their friends and only through electronic means.  Their only companions are their siblings which in reality can be quite skirmish and combative.  They are limited to their back yard, if they have one and it is not snowing and cold.  The news of the virus is on nearly 24/7 on many channels.  The resounding “Breaking News” numerates many times a day, and oftentimes parents are glued to the updates to prepare for the next surge of action.  But “what about the kids?”. 

Even when parents try to fake it, kids feel it in their bones when their parents feel anxious, frustrated, belabored or depressed.  That is the nature of kids.  Their connection to their parents is intuitive.  It can’t be seen or heard, but it is there.  They feel what their parents feel.  They may express it or react differently than their parents, but kids feel there is definitely something in the air! They watch their parents watch the news and the tension draws deeply inside them.  They watch their parents, the leaders of their world, struggle.

Kids also have their own reaction to the crisis besides dealing with their parents’ reaction.  They are out of their element.  Instead of playing or doing homework after school while supper is being made, they are at home all of the time.  They can no longer be distracted by reality.  They have nightmares or feel that zombies are living in their basement.  They may regress and act younger than they are.  They may be clingier, or cry more, or have more outbursts.  It’s their way of saying that they are not doing well.  Expressing their fears verbally is just not their nature at their young ages.

What do kids need?  Lots of love, and patience, and understanding, and reassurance, and a walk-through of their fears to help them better understand that things will eventually return to normal.  They need guidance and leadership.  They need a parent who will help them pick up the pieces and encourage them to be resilient, look at positives, and allow their parents to handle the burdens.  What about the kids?  Their mind is not yet developed and their understanding of this crisis is warped by the emotion of it all.  Be there for them.  Help them know that this will soon pass.  Give them hope.  Give them your attention.  Having kids stay at home could be a hidden blessing as they are around their most influential people to help them get through this crisis.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Psychotherapist

How Are We All Doing?

Well, the sun is still shining.  Spring is on its way-….and, we are nearly homebound as we continue to face CoVID-19. 

So much is happening:

  • You may be infected or a carrier, or know someone that is
  • You may be home-bound, either voluntarily or by government order
    • Restricted from going to bars, restaurants, or any entertainment venues
    • Home with the kids and likely in charge of helping the children understand why the crack-down, facilitating home-schooling options, making entertainment opportunities in the house, dealing with siblings’ conflicts, rule and chore enforcement, and household management
    • All alone and isolated
  • You are not able to see those that are vulnerable and elderly in nursing homes, assisted living, and those in senior living due to the risk of exposure
  • You are either unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation or engaged in your employment, exposing you to the risk of infection or a carrier of such
  • You are aware of many small venues closing their doors with their own financial losses due to a lack of customers
  • You have lost much of your retirement or monies held in the stock market with a look at what life may now be like without that added cushion.
  • You realize that life will not be the same once this has all passed.

So, how are most of us trying to deal with all of this?

  • Stress is the new normal, for all of the reasons above
    • Fear and worry about your health and the health of loved ones
    • Sleeping and eating changes
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
    • Panic reactions
    • Catastrophizing further than what is warranted
  • The sun is still shining; this too shall pass

So, what kinds of things can you do to support yourself:

  • Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.  Of course, this is limited to phone, social media platforms or any other non-direct efforts
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can cause further anxiety and panic.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities and you are having difficulty functioning
  • When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel better.
  • And, remember; the sun is still shining.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW