Mental health and stress can show themselves in many ways for children. Often, children express how they are feeling through their behaviors. Younger children may express fear and worry by withdrawing or becoming clingy with a parent or caregiver. They may have stomach aches or changes in sleeping habits. For older children, they may argue with others, disengage from family and friends or engage in other behaviors that are not typical for them.
Ways to Manage Mental Health and Stress:
Recognize signs of stress in your children: Examples include
Connect With Others
It is more important now than ever to find ways to connect. Reach out to your friends and loved ones and through social media, email, video recordings, and online platforms to help each other find comfort, peace, and hope in these stressful times. Encourage your children and families to do the same
Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. Reach out to members of your congregation who build you up and reach out to those you think may be lonely or need a friend during this difficult time. You can:
- Use the telephone, email, texting, and social media to connect with friends, family, and others.
- Talk “face to face” with friends and loved ones using Skype or FaceTime.
- Spend time with friends or loved ones in groups less than 10
Help your children find practical ways to cope:
- Exercise and physical activity, daily if possible
- Relax your body often by doing things that work for you—take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, or engage in pleasurable hobbies
- Pray, meditate and count your blessings
- Use time off to relax—eat a good meal, read, listen to music, take a bath, or talk to family
- Talk about your feelings to loved ones and friends often
- Listen to uplifting, spiritual music
- Learning and intellectual engagement—books, reading, limited internet
- Positive family time—working to counter negativity
- Alone time, outside if possible, but inside too; but remember, don’t over-isolate
- Be discerning in exposure to news media; find your balance in being informed and stepping away
- When struggling with competing priorities and feeling pulled in all directions, build in brief pauses in your day to 1) de-stress; 2) collect thoughts; 3) let go of one task and prepare for the next; 4) savor life
- Have you and your child name 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you smell, 2 things you can touch and 1 thing you can taste
- Use other grounding strategies
ATTENTION PARENTS: Self Care is also important during this time. Taking care of your children requires you to first make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Just as you’re instructed to put on your oxygen mask before helping others on an airplane, we all need to practice self-care in whatever way we can. Modeling this kind of behavior has the added benefit of teaching your children how to cope in a healthy way with difficult times.
By Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition