As the COVID-19 epidemic swept over the world, playdates were postponed, family gatherings were canceled, and the school looked drastically different. Meanwhile, children tried their best to adjust to these somewhat puzzling circumstances. Now, with several months of this pandemic behind us but more uncertainties and pressure ahead, life is challenging for children all around the globe. Life is difficult for children of all ages, with several months of the coronavirus crisis behind us and more uncertainties and pressure ahead. That’s why many parents, watching their children struggle with anxiety, melancholy, and behavioral issues, are concerned about how this may affect their children in the long run. Yes, Covid includes trauma. However, children are more resilient than we think. So, let’s see how to go about it as a parent.
Trauma: What it is & What it isn’t
To understand how this pandemic might affect your child and if it’s traumatic for them, you need to understand what trauma is.
As a parent, you need to understand that an incident, whatever it is, does not determine if something is traumatic or not. Trauma is primarily concerned with the individual’s reaction to the distressing incident. Therefore, just because a child experiences something potentially traumatic does not guarantee that they will be traumatized.
For example, two kids can be in the same car accident; one can be traumatized by it, and the other not. It all depends on how they perceive the incident in question. The first one might feel that they could have died while the other sees it as a mild inconvenience.
Is my child traumatized by the Corona pandemic?
It’s true; Covid includes trauma. However, as we have just mentioned, it doesn’t mean your child is necessarily traumatized by it. Pandemic is a significant stressor in one’s life, especially for a child. Unfortunately, there’s no bulletproof way to predict if someone will experience it as trauma or not.
For example, children who have witnessed the death or hospitalization of a loved one or who have been severely sick themselves may find these situations traumatic. On the other hand, if your child didn’t experience this type of stressful event, they are less likely to feel traumatized.
However, the stress that children have been subjected to in recent months may have had other major impacts that may not match the clinical criteria of trauma. This is where the concept of adjustment comes into play.
Even though some events aren’t a direct physical threat to a child, they can cause emotional or behavioral changes in them. Therefore, when a youngster has difficulties adjusting to a new stressor, experts refer to it as an adjustment disorder. The critical fact to remember is this is not the same as a traumatic experience. Why? Because the child is not in danger. However, it can still result in difficulties such as anxiety, depression, or disruptive behavior. So, what events can cause adjustment disorder? For example, children experiencing a parent’s divorce can cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, if you recently moved or are in the middle of the relocation process right now, your child might be under a lot of pressure. It’s just one change after another that can cause the adjustment disorder. So, it’s your job to make moving day with kids easier and try to make it stress-free for them! There are many ways to do it, from being open about the move and reasons for it to including them in the process.
Covid includes trauma – How to go about it as a parent
Unfortunately, we can’t entirely shelter our children from the stress of this circumstance as parents. However, there are techniques we can employ to help their mental health now and in the future. We can help them overcome Covid trauma or adjustment disorder. So, let’s see how!
Modify your expectations
It’s natural not to be yourself when so much is taken away from you. Therefore, many children will not fully recover until the Covid crisis has passed. That’s why you as a parent need to adjust your expectations and not push them to go back to their ‘normal’ self. The truth is, we all have changed, and so have our children. So, let them be their new selves.
Show them empathy
Even if you can’t address the problem, clearly acknowledging your child’s feelings can make a tremendous impact. Allow your child to communicate about what is bothering them, and don’t rush to resolve their tough feelings. Be there for them and show them you understand how they feel. For example, if you’re moving houses, it’s normal for your child to feel angry and sad. So, let them express those feelings and try and get to the bottom of it. Let them know you understand that and you feel the same way. After all, relocation is not easy for anyone. They need to see that side of you as well. However, to make this transition easier, involve them in the relocation process. Let them choose what they want to bring with them. The moving crew from Pack & Go Movers told us some families bring their kids to choose the packing material and services they need for the relocation. So, why not make this whole thing fun in that way as well!
Don’t overdo it
Don’t feel obligated to go above and beyond all the time. For example, your child may have the time to learn a new instrument, but this does not obligate them to do so. Relaxation and enjoyment are still crucial for their mental health. This is something you should never forget.
Let them work on new skills
Once you’ve determined which areas of development to focus on, try if you can find simple activities for your child to practice these abilities. This can be anything from cooperative play with siblings to a 20-minute independent reading every day. A huge milestone for them can even be completing house chores without your assistance. You need to let them see they can achieve many things on their own if they put their mind to it.
We suggest even rewarding them now and then. For example, if your child practices reading, you can buy them a book of their choice every time they finish one book. This will motivate them to practice even more!
Recognize that it is normal for your kid to feel disoriented after losing so much. Take it one day at a time and be patient with your child while they go through this challenging period. Let them do their thing at their own pace. Don’t rush them in any way. Show them you are here for them every step of the way. Support is crucial, and they need to feel it in everything they do.
Consult a specialist
If in doubt, it’s always best to consult a specialist. A trained professional, such as a child psychologist or a therapist, can provide you with guidance and teach you techniques necessary to handle trauma. These professionals can offer clarity and objectivity that you, as a parent, can’t have.
Covid includes trauma for everybody, especially children who don’t fully understand what’s going on. Thankfully, we’re slowly putting this pandemic behind us. However, this doesn’t mean we fully recovered, especially mentally. During this period, kids missed a lot of events, celebrations, and playdates. They didn’t go to school; you didn’t go to work. Even though it may seem convenient to us, it’s a massive change for them. That’s why it’s possible they feel traumatized, or they’re dealing with adjustment disorder. As we explained in this article, this is not an unusual outcome. So, with these tips we gave you, you know how to go about it as a parent and help your kids power through this difficult time in their lives. Good luck, and be patient!