May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
We are a year into the pandemic and we can really see the impact of the last year on our children. We can FEEL it too. Last year we spoke about possible changes in behavior due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now behaviors are even more concerning. We are seeing behaviors and attitudes at risk of long-term effects from the pandemic year, particularly for young children. Children experience life with their whole body as they learn to integrate their life experiences into learning and memories. It is important to know what mental health looks like in children because it is portrayed behaviorally, not verbally like in adults, because their brains develop in sequence with the cognitive thinking parts last.
The behaviors that arise may not be only concerning to you, they may also elicit anger and worry from you, which escalates your reactivity towards your child. Your desire to want to control is high, resulting in a cycle of screaming, crying, meltdown, timeouts, and blowups for everyone involved. Parents, we understand you are doing the best you can right now because YOU TOO have been under the same amount of stress as your children. Even with the hope of vaccinations and businesses opening up, we all know in the back of our minds “a shut down can happen again.”
With the ever-changing “routines'' of this pandemic, children and adults have experienced daily high stressors and small traumas. Overtime, this impacts both parent and child mental health functioning because we know in the brain this level of strain has become a big “T” trauma that will have lasting effects for this generation and the next. The awesome thing is that we know how to instill protective factors for our children to develop resiliency. We know that RELATIONSHIPS and being CONNECTED are the necessary aspects for healthy brains and development for humans.