Occupational Therapist

Stress and COVID-19

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There was a week recently that almost every child on my caseload was struggling and having meltdowns. No, it was not a full moon week or a planet in retrograde. We need to start looking at our own mental health so we can see through the lens of our children.

This time of the year children typically get squirmy. It’s the end of the school year. Virtual schooling is no different. It may be dialed up a few notches though. They are grieving. They did not get to say goodbye to teachers and peers. They did not get to participate in end of the year fun activities. They have been at home since spring break. 

Here are 3 suggestions based on the book “Talk So Children Will Listen & Listen So Children Will Talk” (link to on the blog)

  1. Say out loud how you are feeling

Example- “I am really frustrated right now because we had to cancel vacation. I was really looking forward to it.” You do not need to elaborate. Just model how to talk about what you are feeling in an appropriate manner.

  1. Its ok to not be ok

We have all been at home with minimal contact with the outside world. Store runs are short. We are all wearing masks. The world just looks crazy right now. Nothing is certain. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, pre-COVID was stressful enough. Services are now virtual. There is no respite. Go back to number one and label your emotion out loud. Our friends with special needs need the repetition.

  1. Behavior is always a form of communication

One client of mine is a pre-teen and hung up the phone. Refused to go back in the session. Children are done with virtual and some really need that in person connection. It’s just not meaningful to them anymore over video chat. 

Another client stubbed their toe and everything came flying out- COVID, life events, feelings of isolation. It is all bottled up in there and shot out like a rocket. 

Let’s prevent the rocket from launching and have meaningful discussions. When you see a behavior, try to label the emotion. From the first example- the next session was held in person and everything came out. It was a great session. From the second example- when you talk about this that happened in the past, what are you feeling? Student said nervous and we worked on language around emotions. 

Please reach out to qualified professionals that can help you- licensed mental health counselors, clinical social workers, or occupational therapists. Occupational therapists do work in mental health to help create meaningful occupations (daily activities). For more information, please visit www.soultosoulyogasrq.com 

We work closely with many mental health professionals and are more than happy to make a referral as well.

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