by Gary Schreiner, PhD, Behavioral Health Director
These are surreal and unusual times.We need to adapt to these uncommon times by keeping our family and ourselves physically and emotionally healthy.
Remember the saying, “Kids don’t do as we say but do as we do”? If your children see you anxious, feeling down, and/or angry, then they will also feel those same emotions. Children need to feel secure in their homes, and they get that security from their parents. It is okay to tell your children how you feel as long as you continue to reassure them that mom and dad will be there for them. Accept and acknowledge your children’s feelings. Don’t try to talk them out of them. Let them know that it is okay to feel scared, frustrated,and/or angry. We all get frustrated with our children, and we tend to yell or discipline them too much. If that is the case, calm down and go to your child and tell them you love them and that you too were frustrated with the situation. Complaining in front of your children continuously will just increase their complaining which, in turn, will be annoying to you.
Try to set up “play dates” with their friends so they can have some social time with their peers. They receive most of their socialization in schools, and currently we can’t count on that happening. Meet their friends and family at a park and let them play together, have them run through the sprinkler, set up a small soccer field, have them invent their own game, and then they can teach you how to “play” the game. Being outside and doing activities that they enjoy will help the entire family get through this tumultuous time. As long as they are with their friends, they will enjoy most activities.
For teens, here are some suggestions. Group chats on the computer will help. Computer games are okay, as long as they are interspersed with personal interactions. Having a movie night in small groups at your home can be fun. Have your teen run community errands for you so they can get out of the house. Get them out of their room as much as possible and have them participate in family activities. Let them invite one friend to participate in family activities. Allow them to go visit other friends. Accentuate the safety procedures as not an infringement on their rights but that they are protecting themselves, their friends, and their family. It is a sign on how much they care for those people that are close to them.
The following link from the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine provides a great deal of information to help frazzled parents. https://www.adolescenthealth.org/COVID-19/COVID-19-Resources-for-Parents-and-Teens.aspx
If you are concerned about your child because of drastic mood swings, lengthy isolation, or out of the ordinary anger or fear, please contact us and one of our Family Therapists will help you with suggestions to assure the well-being of your children.
We also have School-Based Health Centers in Avon, Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood where you can schedule an appointment, either via telehealth (a video-chat or phone call from the comfort and safety of your own home) or in-person. Please see more about our SBHCs here – https://www.mountainfamily.org/school-based-health-centers/
In addition, we are here for you as parents as well given that this is a very stressful time. We have 15 behavorial health providers, many of whom are bi-lingual speaking English and Spanish, located at our clinics in Basalt, Glenwood, Rifle, and Edwards.
Please schedule an appointment by calling 970-945-2840 or visit us at www.mountainfamily.org. We look forward to caring for your children and you.