Is My Child Stressed?
Self-care Tips to Live a Balanced Life
The pandemic has not only been hard on adults, but also on young children. Pre-COVID, children were able to attend school, socialize with friends and attend birthday parties. With current restrictions and virtual learning, children are having difficulty coping with the new normal.
Young children who are not able to use words to communicate can get frustrated, and so can caregivers when they are unable to understand childrens’ needs. So how can you tell if your child is stressed or needs additional support? Typically, if children are upset or stressed it shows up in their behavior. Signs a child is stressed include throwing tantrums, bathroom accidents, climbing furniture, biting, hitting or refusing to eat.
The following self-care tools will help your child decompress and have balance:
- Identify emotions. Helping children to identify emotions is imperative. If parents can emulate those feelings, this will help children better understand feelings. If they see parents are stressed or that family members seem anxious, they will begin to imitate those feelings. Program Director Chris Leucht says, “Communicating what is stressing you at an age-appropriate level for kids is helpful to both the children and parents. Helping them understand why we wear masks and why we’re staying at home will give them better comprehension of what is going on in today’s world and how they feel about it.”
- Create a routine. Parents and caregivers may struggle not knowing what to expect each week. For children, they do not know what the next hour looks like. At school they had structure, but having structure at home may prove difficult. Creating a routine can help establish organization and structure that the child may be craving. Set a time to wake up, eat, play and go to bed.
- Enjoy being outside. Between working from home and virtual learning, it can be difficult to balance life. However, during breaks and when feasible, find time to go outside. While there are many safety restrictions in place, going to the park or taking a walk in the neighborhood can be a mood booster. Kids need that time to run and jump around to exert their extra energy.
- Practice yoga. Practicing yoga movements and breath work not only can help children be mindful, they are activities that parents and caregivers can benefit from and join. If a child is throwing a tantrum or being disruptive, doing deep breathing exercises can help calm them. One way to make this more fun is to get a stuffed animal and place it on your child’s stomach. Have them focus on the toy moving up and down as they practice breathing.
- Build a sensory toolkit. A sensory tool kit is a portable box or bag of toys or items that help calm or stimulate an individual’s nervous system. Research has proven that sensory toolkits can help increase brain activity and emotional response. When considering items to place in your toolkit, make sure each item reflects the five senses – taste, smell, touch, hear and sight. Some examples can be flowers to smell, a fuzzy blanket for touch or a favorite snack to taste.
SELF-CARE CUBE INSTRUCTIONS
To support your mental health, it is imperative to practice self-care at all times, but particularly during trying times. Self-care is defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.
In our video, Mental Health Therapists Brooke Dicken, MSW and Angela Wu, AMFT, APCC teach us an activity that you can do for yourself in order to engage in self-care daily.
Use each side of this cube to develop six different healthy activities to prioritize your health each day.
- Cube template
- Before you start, write down what you like to do on a notepad. Once you have an idea of what you want to include, draw images to go with each self-care item on the cube. Don’t forget to have fun and be creative.
- Take scissors and cut it out. Do not cut off the flaps because you’ll use them to put the cube together.
- When finished cutting, fold edges of flaps on the outer rim.
- When edges are folded, tape the inside of the flap and begin to connect the edges together to form the cube.
Remember: Be kind to yourself and be patient with yourself, because you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. Reach out to your support circle and take breaks.
Watch the video instructions at tinyurl.com/SelfCareCube.