As we start a new year under the umbrella of COVID-19, Delta, Omicron, or IHU as parents, educators, and mental health professionals we are pondering the impact of COVID on children from infants to young adults. Lockdowns, cancellations, virtual, and asynchronous learning has shown us that reframing life day by day is our new normal.
The impacts of COVID-19 on children can be based upon their developmental age, current educational status, special needs, if family members tested positive, loss of life due to COVID, pre-existing mental health concerns, and length of quarantine. Some teens graduated from high school and started college virtually while others completed middle school and moved to new high schools. These new chapters of life started without friends and trying to figure out how to make friends virtually in class. Teachers have become even more creative with icebreakers to initiate connections or spark on screen conversations. Parents have reached out to mental health professionals to address the concerns of loneliness, loss of friends, depression, and anxiety relating to being isolated.
Reframing life is challenging but together it can be done. Leaning into developing structured parental involvement should take the form of creating schedules and maintain routines as well as embracing the “doing nothing” and being ok with independence and down time. An activity that I teach my clients that I enjoy doing myself is taking myself on a mind vacation with all of my senses. Close your eyes and visualize what do you see in the distance, what do you hear, what can you smell, touch, and taste.
Developing healthy coping skills and grounding techniques are great ways to manage stress. Other helpful ideas to support the impacts of growing up in COVID that are beneficial are connecting with your school counselor about volunteer activities, fun social groups, joining a club, creating an activity calendar while incorporating do nothing days, and good sleep/food hygiene. Most importantly know that you are not alone and that networking with mental health professionals can provide support for you and your family.