Help protect your child’s mental health during COVID-19. In this video, Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason, vice chief of CHKD’s mental health program, offers practical strategies to help families navigate this challenging time. (Part three of four.)
So I mentioned earlier a couple of things that parents can do. The first is remember that they're the expert, they know their child best. They know their child better than anyone else. This is a time to keep track of the big changes. Next. Using words for feelings, especially the younger Children have big feelings, but don't necessarily have the words to explain what they're feeling. So telling a child you look sad, you look angry can be really helpful because that gives them a way to organize this big, overwhelming feeling. Um coping strategies can be really important, breathing, so important and so valuable and really easy to learn for young Children. Sesame Street has a great video on it where Elmo teaches young Children how to breathe for relaxation for older Children, there are a number of free apps that can help Children with mindfulness clearing their mind, practicing relaxation strategies. Those can all be really helpful. We know that mental health is better um protected when people stay connected to other people. So making sure that family time happens, making sure that a child has ways to connect to their friends by phone, by video chat, whichever platform seems like the right one. Really valuable to have that time to play together to talk together too. Do their normal kid things, try to keep things predictable again. The world has changed a lot and everyone's daytime routine has really been uh changed, it sometimes turned upside down, but to the extent possible, it's useful for parents to keep a routine during the day for wake up time, Bedtime mealtime, have the same expectations about what a child supposed to do during the day chores if that's an expectation. And there should be some structure around screen time, although nearly everyone has started to use screens more, but parents are still in charge of how much time a child spends on their screens. Lastly, I think it's useful for parents to remember that The most important predictor of how a child does under stress is that they have safe, predictable, nurturing relationships. All of the other things that we talk about are valuable, but the most important thing is the child knows that someone's got their back and someone's going to help them with their feelings. Parents can do that. And um, Children, we'll have the best shot at doing well during this stressful time. You can't do all this and take care of Children's emotions without taking care of your own emotions. Um, Parents need to use their own social supports, whatever they have already used to help them with stress in the past. Really important to give themselves enough space to be, have the energy to be the parents their child needs right now.