How to Help Your Child's Mental Health During COVID-19

With the changes that are occurring due to COVID-19, it can be difficult to fully comprehend our temporarily halted lives.

Our environments are changing rapidly, which effects various social issues. Some may find themselves being more affected by mental health than usual.

Children are especially susceptible to confusion and fear. It can be confusing for them to understand why their routines have been drastically disrupted.

Some parents may find themselves and their kids struggling with mental health more than usual as well.

One thing we can do is build and exemplify resilience.

Building resilience can seem daunting, especially in a frightening environment. However, it is the small and consistent efforts parents make each day that will help the most.

Here are four simple ways parents can help their children cope with the social effects of COVID-19:

Help them feel safe through validation

It is not uncommon for kids to have outbursts of emotion during stressful times. Creating a safe environment for our children to express their emotions is one of the most important things we can do to help them get through difficult times. We can create a safe environment by validating their emotions. Let them know you see them and love them. Then help them navigate those emotions in healthy ways.

Connect with them through laughter

You may have heard that “laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter is proven to build resilient and strong relationships. It can also externalize fear and anxiety. Parents can help their children, and themselves, through difficult times by finding ways to laugh and be silly. Try picking up a hobby or game they love and play with them, even if it means playing video games.

Express confidence in the future

With constant worry, it is easy to get caught up in the panic and uncertainty of the future. However, focusing on the fear only fuels the panic. Children feel this worry and believe that it is going to be this way forever. Parents can help alleviate this by taking a confident and hopeful approach to future plans. Choosing to remain positive and expressing that to children will let them know this is temporary.

Prioritize your mental health

Parents need emotional support too. It is important for parents to take care of their own mental health. Doing so will exemplify a healthy, hopeful example. Be sure to set aside time to be alone, enjoy a book, watch a TV show or reach out to close friends. Children mimic their parents’ emotional state. If a parent takes time to calm themselves, children will follow. Those who care for themselves can better care for those around them.

While these action items may seem trivial, the purpose is not to diminish those who are going through extremely difficult circumstances. Rather, it provides simple actions parents can start doing today to help their children feel safe, connected and confident. Done consistently, these actions will ultimately build resilience and can help our children through this difficult time.

  • Because of COVID-19, you may find that you need additional assistance with affording groceries, making rent, or paying utilities. Please dial 2-1-1 from any phone, text your zip code to 898-211, or visit http://211utah.org for help. We’re making daily contact with local agencies to give you the most up to date information. (You can also contact 2-1-1 to find out how you can give help!)

United Way is on a mission to help every child in our community feel safe, connected, and confident. Twice a month in this space, we’ll be sharing ideas from local professionals, parents, and friends about how you can do that for the kids in your life. In the meantime, find us at http://everydaystrong.org, or on Facebook or Instagram.