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Checking Up On Your Child’s Mental Health During The Covid-19 Pandemic

“No ones’ going to harm you – not while I’m around”. A song from the Broadway show Sweeny Todd is also a phrase parents use to help children feel safe and at ease. Ensuring a child is safe from monsters under the bed or beasts in the closet, because you are in the next room, works well for some children, yet not for others. According to a recent study, 43% of children between the ages of six and twelve are more fearful of the monsters tucking them in at night, than those lying in wait under the bed. Child abuse, like spousal abuse, can go unseen. Teachers and school counselors remind us of this when advocating for the re-opening of schools, particularly for elementary through sixth grade students. Parents love their children and want the best for them, yet many fail to recognize the symptoms, or acknowledge a child’s need for therapy or psychiatric care. Improving Lives Counseling Services advocates mental health check-ups for toddlers, children, adolescents, and teens. 

Why There May be a Need For a Mental Health Check-up With Your Child

Acknowledging your child needs therapy doesn’t make you a bad parent. Look at all the changes children have gone through in the past 12-15 months. Being pulled from classrooms, which provided safe learning environments, separated from friends and comrades, restricted from participation in extracurricular activities, and forced to endure distance learning is enough to trigger symptoms associated with “displacement” [a way to cope with unwanted emotions and fears] in the healthiest, most well-balanced child.  Recent research found children, sheltering-in-place with parents while distance learning, hide apprehension, distress, and fear. Their primary motive is a desire to please, to appear emotionally safe in their environment. 

Sheltering-in-place and distance learning requires commitment and compliance – from both the parent and the child. Recent research has found unmotivated teens are sleeping in, logging in late, and outsourcing assignments. One school found assignments were being completed by parents and tests taken by siblings. They also found young children and teens were expected to prepare their own breakfast, make their own lunch, and help with household chores. Chores they would not be expected to perform were they in the classroom. This drastic change in a child’s lifestyle can be dangerously dysfunctional. 

Parents have successfully homeschooled children for centuries. They have successfully educated and prepared their children for higher learning, instilled self-esteem, and promoted self-worth. However, children forced into distance learning, with parents unprepared and inconvenienced by the change, not only fail to successfully complete assignments, but suffer emotionally. The parents of these children suffer an egregious pain – aware of their failure to meet the child’s specific needs. 

Yes, there are children who do well with distance learning and parents who provide the guidance and support needed. Yes, there are children who have adjusted well to social-distancing, wearing a mask, and being with family 24/7. Unfortunately, this isn’t true for 43% of children in the United States. Children as young as 10 are stealing cars, teens as young as 12 are committing serious crimes, and 8-year-olds are considering suicide. Fear of distance learning, of failing mom and dad, of losing friends, and of COVID-19 has led to symptoms of hypervigilance in adolescents, and older teens. 

Meet With a Professional Oklahoma Child Counselor

Children don’t have to be neglected, abused, or experience violence to display symptoms of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Improving Lives Counseling Services’ team of licensed counselors and therapists treat children residing in codependent enabling environments, children who have become parents to their parents, children who have taken on the role of caretaker, children suffering reactive attachment disorder, chronic stress, persistent anxiety, emotional volatility, and behavior disorders. Throughout the country, children have been forced to endure a lot. Their mental well-being will be crucial as they navigate a return to the classroom, a return of extracurricular activities, freedom to see extended family, and reconnecting with friends. Your child’s mental health and emotional well-being matters. 

Let’s let “No one’s going to harm you – not while I’m around” include, looking under the bed, checking in the closet, and scheduling a mental health check-up. You and your child will be glad you did. Give us a call, today.