This past year has thrown parents and children for a loop. A lot of kids have been going through rapid changes when it comes to their school and home environment and this can cause a lot of negative emotions and feelings of stress and anxiety. Raising emotionally healthy kids in 2021 is not easy – and it’s probably something that you thought that you would never have to worry about, but here we are, and it’s time to jump in head first. Raising emotionally healthy kids is very important no matter what year it is, but right now, it should be a priority because we are seeing more depression, anxiety, and other negative thoughts and feelings than we ever have in the past. Here are a few ways to help raise your kids to be emotionally healthy this year and beyond.
What do you want to look out for this year?
First of all, to raise emotionally healthy children, you are going to want to pay attention and notice any changes that might be happening. All children are going to react to the pandemic and the ongoing challenges in different ways. It’s important to understand that these emotions, while intense at times, are normal and common, and nothing for your children to be ashamed of. It’s also important to note that children don’t always come out and tell you how they feel, and may instead display behavioral changes such as acting out in anger or withdrawing.
Common emotional reactions to crises (like the pandemic) might include grief over canceled plans, missing friends, and changes of routines, fear over losing loved ones, becoming ill, or concerns that things will never get back to normal, anger that this is happening, that life as we know it was changed so abruptly, and that there are no definite answers as to when it will end, numbness and wanting to withdraw from others because of feeling overwhelmed, shocked, or upset, depression because of loneliness, lack of motivation, loss of routine, and missing family/friends, or more.
It’s important to remember that every child (and adult) is totally unique, so trust in your ability that you know your child best.
Keep normalcy as much as possible
The pandemic is a time of upheaval – there is no getting around that fact. But doing our best to give our children a sense of routine during this time will help keep them secure. Children thrive on routine, and making sure they eat regularly and get enough sleep is important for both their emotional and physical health. So stick to a set bedtime (even when you are home all the time and are getting up later for school!). Have family meals together when possible, and make sure that your child’s days are predictable as well. Keep things as normal as possible, even when that is not the case at all.
Practice empathy and gratitude
The emotions your child may have experienced during the pandemic aren’t all negative. With a little help from you, you may be able to help your child experience a little more empathy and gratitude. As you discuss with them the reasons behind isolations, masking, and social distancing, you can empathize that keeping their germs away from others is the ultimate act of kindness. You can also emphasize gratitude: although your child’s life may have changed in many ways, the fact that they have parents to care for them, a warm home to live in, and food on the table, is something to be very grateful for.
Participate as much as possible
At the end of the day, a lot of the time, kids just want to be shown love and affection. Participate in their lives as much as you can. I know that you might be balancing work, home chores, and more, and you might feel like you are on the verge of losing it yourself, but make sure that you are able to 1) keep yourself emotionally healthy so that you can be there for them and 2) get involved – whatever this looks like for your individual family. Spend more quality time together and really invest yourself into your child’s life.
It might be time for family counseling
You can only do what you can do and sometimes, you need a professional to help you work through emotions. Don’t let the feelings of anxiety, grief, or stress get out of hand…and I’m not just talking about your kids here: this goes for the entire family. Ray of Hope Counseling Services offers family counseling (and couples counseling, individual counseling, and more) from the comfort of your own home, or in their offices. Some of their locations are: therapy Peachtree City, Marietta, Kennesaw, Alpharetta, Smyrna, Canton, Conyers, Athens, etc… Ray of Hope Counseling Services is a Group of Psychotherapists who are dedicated to helping, healing, and strengthening individuals, families, and couples with all of life’s changes and challenges. Each therapist at Ray of Hope is licensed and educated to provide an excellent level of care. The therapists at Ray of Hope Counseling Services also have additional training and/or hold certifications in their specialty area, which is huge! If your family needs help getting through these weird times, call them at (678) 213-2194.