I’ve always looked forward to having a great relationship with my children, bonus kids and youth that I encounter on a daily basis. Over the past year, I’ve noticed that so many of our youth were not as happy or engaged. I am a strong believer in them finding a safe space to express and relieve some of the stress of everyday life. Our youth are becoming increasingly stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed and depressed. One of the best things about having children at home is they keep me at the pulse of youth conversations across the entire spectrum of age groups.
Self Care and Mental Health Activities for Our Youth
The children I interviewed were frustrated with parental talk about politics that filtered over into their learning environments at school. Some students lost “friends” because they didn’t want to have adult conversations. Every conversation was fueled with negativity and students struggled to have fun.
Another group was upset with the new policies and procedures at school. They questioned, “If we were quarantined from this deadly virus when numbers were low, why are we going back to school when the numbers are higher?” Students were afraid of getting COVID-19 or being a carrier of the virus to their loved ones that may have pre-existing conditions. Students are struggling to find security in a safe learning environment.
Some of them even missed life events that they were looking forward to participating in like vacations, camps, celebrations, passing of someone special and social events that were a part of their self-care routines. A few families shared that their mom lost her job, car or house, and they have to live with other family members in a shared space that is not helpful for them as young people to cope with the new changes.
I feel as if our youth are overwhelmingly depressed by the nation’s inability to offer resources to schools and for them in their communities. Some students are in need of a break and not expected to still “be perfect” when they are hungry and homeless. They are scared or embarrassed to expose their parents’ situations by asking others for help with their food insecurities.
I know my household has a strong core for mental health and self-care, but honestly the past year has put my experiences as a mother to the test. So, I decided to share some of the things I offer my family to see if it could help someone reading this magazine use them with their little ones or share with another family.
Ways to Help Kids and Teens Cope with the Stress of COVID-19
- Establish an individual and family self-care routine
- Focus on true expression of feelings. I am angry because… I am feeling depressed because…
- Encourage everyone to stay in the moment
- Find time to do low stress/individual activities
- Share your parental experiences to promote self-awareness, concepts and family esteem
- Practice what you preach – Your children are watching and learning
- Enjoy the arts
- Listen to learn, not to prove you’re right
- Give love with hugs and quality time every day, all day
Ensuring our youth’s social, emotional mental health is great helps us as a community continue to grow successful and productive future leaders.