More I go through the year and see people in my private clinic, more I believe that there is something we need to do.
A part of the responsibility we have towards our children is to take action, the guidance to ensure children there Social, Emotional and mental well-being.
In the following discussion as a first step will discuss what are the challenges and youth needs and second step I will discuss per age group of age and how to face it.
I am doing this approach to help support parents, caregivers, and other adults serving children and young people in recognizing children and young people’s social, emotional, and mental health challenges and helping to ensure their well-being.
As you can notice from your feelings and behavior Covid 19 had affected you so will affect children and young people directly and indirectly. Beyond getting sick, many young people’s social, emotional, and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage can continue to affect them across their lifespan.
Some of the challenges children and young people face during the COVID-19 pandemic relate to:
• Changes in their routines (having to physically distance from family, friends, worship community)
• Breaks in continuity of learning (virtual learning environments, technology access and connectivity issues)
• Breaks in continuity of health care (missed well-child and immunization visits, limited access to mental, speech, and occupational health services)
• Missed significant life events (grief of missing celebrations, vacation plans, and/or milestone life events)
• Lost security and safety (housing and food insecurity, increased exposure to violence and online harms, threat of physical illness and uncertainty for the future)
For the young childhood (age from 0 to 5 years)
What are the Challenges
Change in routines
In addition to everyday steps to prevent COVID-19, physical or social distancing is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the virus and to slow its spread. When children are very young, their parents and caregivers—including extended family members, a worship community, and childcare workers—provide them with daily caretaking routines that support their development and well-being (i.e., diaper changes, feeding, hair combing).
Disruptions in these routines and the sudden loss of usual caregivers due to the need to physically distance can be traumatic for young children. It is important for parents to support young children by ensuring their own social, emotional, and mental health. Establishing routines and structure for young children with other trusted caregiver(s) (e.g., babysitters) who also practice social distancing and hygiene measures can provide support to parents with caretaking responsibilities, giving parents time to take healthy steps to cope with their own stress.
Break in continuity of care or learning
Intermittent daycare and school closures may mean that young children have to stay at home while parents and caregiver juggle caretaking, supervision of play and learning, and potential telework responsibilities. Keeping young children at home is one way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Depending on your child’s age and ability, supervision of play may require more hands-on engagement. Unfortunately, some parents do not have jobs that offer telework.
It is important for parents to determine how their family’s composition and access to social supports (i.e., individual and work policies) could make caretaking of young children less challenging. For families with children who have special needs, extra social supports may be required.
Break in continuity of health care
Parents may have felt pressured to avoid seeking health care due to earlier stay-at-home orders and may continue to do so because they are afraid of getting sick with COVID-19. However, well-child visits and immunizations are important to maintain the health of your child. Similarly, social services closures may have impacted many young children’s ability to receive other therapeutic services, like speech and occupational health.
It is important to ensure children receive continuity of health care, including checking on their development at well-child visits, continuing speech, mental health, and occupational health therapies (e.g. via telehealth), and receiving vaccines for illnesses such as measles, influenza, whooping cough, and others. Developmental milestones matter.
Missed significant life events
Physical distancing can make you feel as if your family’s life is on hold. The truth is that the clock keeps ticking. Birthdays, vacation plans, births, and funerals are just a few of the many significant life events that families may miss experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and limited gatherings have affected the ability of friends and family to come together in-person to celebrate and/or grieve in typical ways.
When parents or caregivers experience grief, young children may also experience emotional challenges. It is important to have honest conversations with young children about grief as a normal response to losing someone or something important to you. For pre-verbal children, reading books about emotions can help them begin to understand expression of emotions.
Also, be creative in ways to celebrate life events differently—birthday parades and virtual celebrations with family and friends can help.
Loss of security and safety
Being safe and feeling safe are essential for young children. The household income of many families with young children has been affected during the COVID-19 pandemic due to job loss and lost wages. Economic insecurity is linked to adverse childhood experiences that can negatively impact their social-emotional development, learning, and health. Young children living in families that are experiencing economic difficulties may feel unsafe.
They may have inconsistent access to healthy foods, safe transportation, and housing. Parents’ mounting economic stress can increase children’s risk for exposure to violence. With increased time spent at home during COVID-19, some children may have been increasingly exposed to child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence at home, and sexual violence.
How to Deal with all of these issues? Recognize and address fear and stress
When adults in the household are worried or stressed, even very young children (birth-2 years) may experience emotional distress. Children ages 3-5 years might worry about getting sick with COVID-19 or about their loved ones getting sick. Excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with attention and concentration are some signs of stress in young children.
These are also signs of stress in adults, as well as worsening of chronic health problems or mental health conditions, and increased use of tobacco or alcohol and other substances. Adults should seek mental health services or spiritual guidance if they are experiencing worry and stress that interferes with caretaking, household duties, or their ability to work. Adults can also take steps to provide stability and support to help children cope.
Parents can support positive coping through play and talk about emotions.
For instance, choosing a comfortable space on the floor, at the child’s level, to talk about things that they are seeing adults do differently can provide the opportunity for children to express their fears in a safe place.
To help young children have some sense of control and safety in these circumstances, parents can encourage conversations about being part of a community, such as protecting their family and their neighbors by standing 6 feet apart and wearing a mask. Have these changes become part of a fun and new family routine.
Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions
There are actions we can take to limit the spread of COVID-19. Be a good role model—if adults wash their hands often, stay at least 6 feet apart from others, and wear their mask in public spaces to help protect themselves and others, then children are more likely to do the same. CDC recommends that children age 2 years and older wear a mask.
Help keep children healthy
Schedule well child and immunizations visits for children. Seek continuity in mental health and occupational health care. Help children eat healthy and drink water – instead of sugar sweetened beverages – for strong teeth. Encourage children to play outdoors—it’s great for physical and mental health, and can help children stay healthy and focused.
Help children stay socially connected
Reach out to friends and family via phone or video chats. Write cards or letters to family members they may not be able to visit. Schools may have tips and guidelines to help support social and emotional needs of children.