Thanks to everyone that joined us for our Facebook Live on Mental Health during COVID-19. I know it’s hard out there for everyone, no matter what you’re dealing with, so I hope some of this helped!
A special thanks to our guest, Dr. Stacy Phillips, who has a DSW in Social Work, a Masters in Social Work, a Masters in Clinical Psychology, and with specializations in trauma, polyvictimzation, and adolescent brain science. I know the coolest people, and I am so thankful for those who have been willing to help out during this time!
You can watch the full video here, or for the short recap, here’s what we talked about:
1. What you’re doing right now is not regular parenting, it’s trauma parenting. Having everything change and the world feel unsure is trauma, and so give yourself and your kids some grace.
2. Your kids hear you, so try to be mindful about how you’re talking about them, about the situation, and about the news.
3. Anxiety can have both mental (sadness, fear) and physical (headaches, malaise) manifestations. If you or your kids are “off” it could be due to anxiety. If you or your child starts to not want to get up, not want to eat, not be able to sleep, or have thoughts of self-harm, it’s time to contact a professional. Kristina recommended checking out Doctor on Demand if you’re trying to social distance, Stacy shared her friend’s app, Talk Tailor.
4. BELIEVE YOUR KIDS WHEN THEY TELL YOU HOW THEY’RE FEELING. It’s okay to help them move past those feelings, but it’s not okay to dismiss them or tell them to just man up. Know that your feelings, and your kids feelings are normal reactions to an abnormal situation.
5. Know YOUR triggers. You’re going through a lot right now, too. Know what makes you go over the edge so that you can find ways to cope.
6. Set your family up for success (even if it takes some effort)
7. Rhythm/Repetition/Pattern help children deal with anxiety. Things like rocking, drumming, chewing gum, tapping a pencil, can all be ways for them to get that stimulation. Before you blow up at them for drumming with their pen, realize their brain is using that pattern and repetition as a method of regulation.
8. Honesty is key- but don’t scare them. Your kids know that everything is not okay, so it’s okay to tell them the truth, but frame it in a gentle way. “Right now there are some groceries that are scarce, so we’re not going to eat 7 yogurts in an afternoon, but we have more than enough to get through,” rather than “There’s nothing in the stores! If you eat everything we’re not going to have food!”
9. HOPE is KEY! Stacy spent some time delving into the Science of Hope with us, and letting us know it’s much more accurate a term than “resilient.” You can check out a Hope test at the end of this post.
10. Build an attitude of gratitude- help your kids reframe (and yourself) by making a note of the good things that happened each day. Kristina recommends writing them down so you can look back if you have a really bad day.