A Year Of Isolation
The last year has been challenging for all of us. Between a pandemic that’s still raging across many parts of the country, navigating the world with social distancing, and work, money, and family concerns, life has rarely felt so stressful for so many people. This is especially true for children.
Abruptly pulled out of school and isolated from friends and relatives, unable to participate in regular social activities, and forced to adapt to distance learning, children have taken on a great deal of stress during this pandemic. Now faced with returning to the classroom, many children have fallen behind or may feel anxious about getting sick or reconnecting with friends they haven’t seen for the better part of a year. Additionally, fears of bullying, not fitting in, and coping with the loss of loved ones during the pandemic may weigh on other children.
Giving Kids A Break
As parents and guardians, it can be frustrating watching our children struggle so much and feel unable to help. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure we’re giving children time to rest and cope with the increased stresses and pressures facing them today. Everyone needs a mental health day sometimes, and children are no different.
Teaching children that it’s okay—and in fact necessary—to take care of their mental health sends an important message in a society that often romanticizes overworking to the point of burnout. Although perseverance and persistence are vital life skills, balance and rest are just as important. Having an honest conversation about mental health with your child and reminding them that it’s okay to slow down shows them you care more about their well-being than you do about their grades or attendance record.
Giving children permission to take breaks and focus on their mental well-being helps teach them to regularly check in with themselves and be open about mental health concerns before things reach a boiling point.
Signs Your Child Needs A Mental Health Day
Everyone responds to stress differently. However, there are several common signs of stress you can look out for that may be an indication your child is feeling overwhelmed.
Changes in mood and behavior
If you notice significant or unusual changes in your child’s behavior, it may be a sign they’re going through a difficult time. Uncharacteristic anger and irritability are common indications of stress.
Changes in sleeping patterns
Stress can interfere with sleep. If you notice your child has been sleeping too much or too little, it may be a good time to check in with them about their stress levels. A mental health day can be a great way to help children reset, catch up, and come back to school refreshed and renewed.
Loss of interest in hobbies and social activities
Withdrawing from family and friends is a common response to stress. Children may pull away or lose joy in regular hobbies if they’re feeling overwhelmed.
It’s important to note that these behaviors can also be symptoms of other mental health conditions, especially when exhibited over several weeks or months. Consider talking to a licensed mental health professional if your child is experiencing prolonged difficulties.
How To Help Your Child Make The Most Of Mental Health Days
The best way to take a mental health day can look different depending on your child’s age and needs, as well as the reason they need to take a mental health day. However, as parents and guardians, we should do our best to make sure our kids are using mental health days in a meaningful way. Allowing them to get the rest they need is the most important thing, but do your best to help your child identify and work through their problems when they need extra help.
Planning family activities or even just simply spending quality time at home with your child, if possible, can be a great way to help kids to connect and recharge. Be sure to check in with your child regularly throughout the day and try to encourage enriching activities they enjoy. Finally, remind them they don’t have to feel guilty for needing a break. There’s no shame in taking a mental health day. It isn’t about blowing off responsibilities; in fact, taking care of our mental health is one of the most important responsibilities we have.
Life Adjustment Team
If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, contact Life Adjustment Team today. We offer a few different options for those who are trying to integrate back into society such as therapy, virtual and group therapy, assertive case management, and an intensive outpatient program.