Recent research reveals that 1 in 5 children who were quarantined in the Hubei province of China suffered from anxiety and depression both during and after lockdown.
A leading psychotherapist advises American parents to be proactive in dealing with their children’s fears and emotional upheaval during these turbulent times to prevent these mental disorders.
According to PsyPost, home confinement was the reason the Chinese children developed symptoms of anxiety and depression. The authors of the study, which was published in April, concluded: “During the outbreak of COVID-19, the reduction of outdoor activities and social interaction may be associated with an increase in children’s depressive symptoms.”
According to Business Insider, Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, says it’s too early to tell what the mental health effects of the lockdown on our children will be, but adds that addressing the issues now can help prevent future trauma.
Here are some tips to help:
- Use empowering language. Instead of saying, “We’re stuck at home,” which implies you are a victim, say, “We are choosing to help everyone stay safe.”
- Validate your children’s feelings and make it clear that’s it’s okay to be upset and scared. Talk about healthy ways to deal with these emotions, says Morin.
- Create a routine. Structure helps us all deal with uncertainty. Set aside time for schooling, play and social activities, even if they are virtual.
- Have some fun. If you can get outdoors safely, plan a hike. Morin suggests ordering pizza on a Friday night while watching a special movie. “The whole family will get a boost in their mood when they have something to look forward to,” she says.
- Help them stay connected. “Let them have video phone calls with friends,” says Morin, or facilitate a group chat every week or so.
- Get professional help. If you detect a change in your child’s mood or behavior that lasts a couple of weeks, it may be time for professional help. Many therapists are offering online sessions and talking to a professional may stave off mental problems like anxiety and depression.
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