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Children are our unsung heroes.

We were all waiting for the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020 to be over and many of us may have held a hopeful view that 2021 would bring a clean slate. Perhaps we could finally be allowed to return to normality and live our lives freely. Unfortunately, we started the year with a third National Lockdown. Perhaps it was during winter that this lockdown has felt harder to endure, or because it was simply January – a month notoriously known for bringing the feeling of gloom.


It is without question that this lockdown has been tough on everyone. But we wanted to highlight how tough it may have been for children and teenagers, and to take a moment to acknowledge how incredible they are doing, even though they may not be ‘themselves’. Like everyone else doing their bit, children and teenagers are also our unsung heroes. However it is worth remembering that their concept of time and understanding of the world are still developing. Consequently, it may be taking them longer to adjust and adapt to the way we have been living.


Children and teenagers have had to face great changes in a short space of time, often without enough warning or adequate explanation. This has included closure of schools, reduced contact with friends, loss of hobbies, increased isolation, and witnessing their parents and other loved ones become more stressed and busier. We are now seeing a huge decline in children and teenagers’ mental health. This has generated a significant increase in parents requesting support for them.


The most asked question that we hear from parents is ‘how do I fix my child/teenager and make them happy?’ There are many resources out there such as Young Minds (https://youngminds.org.uk/) and Barnardos (https://www.barnardos.org.uk/), and we would encourage you to read these. They are a good source of normalising what you are feeling and letting you know that others are feeling the same concerns that you may be having. They can also be helpful in providing context to what your child/teenager may be going through, such as feelings of anxiety, stress and low mood. However, the answer to the most asked question is this:

There is no “fix it” strategies.


This is because for as long as we are in this pandemic, experiencing lockdowns, restrictions and unpleasant disruptions to routines, we will experience difficult thoughts and feelings. This includes children and teenagers. The biggest challenge to this age group is experiencing uncertainty. This is not just your average uncertainty, but one that is intense and prolonged, risking their mental health. For many of us we have just about the basic coping skills that we can use to manage this, but many children and teenagers may not have learned this.


So, all we can do is simply be there. We can be their rock or a source of certainty during this time. The best chance we have at helping them through this is also through the way we listen to them openly, without question or judgement, and respond to them that enables them to feel heard and validated. Below is a useful article that gives a framework known as ‘PACE’ for how to communicate with children and teenagers, and enable them to have positive experiences at managing difficult emotions. We would highly encourage you to take the time to read this and give it a go. You may be surprised with how they may respond positively to you: https://girfec.fife.scot/wp-content/uploads/sites/61/2020/06/PACE-School.pdf


In the meantime, remember that we are all in the same boat and you are already doing brilliant.


Yours

Psychtherapies.

Illustrative design by Emma Rios

@riosemma

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