Everyone talks about adults taking mental health days. It is particularly important that we are aware of our mental health and take time to nourish it.
But what about our children?
Children are free of adult responsibilities and look at life through a different lens than adults. Though this is true, children also can be anxious, nervous, stressed out, afraid, and overwhelmed. They need mental health days too!
When a baby turns one, there is usually a huge celebration even if the child will not remember! Most parents let their new toddler take a nap and then bring them out to face the crowds or supply a break in between activities. We need to take this idea and apply it to all children. My daughter is 7 and in second grade. She has a long list of items she needs to complete every day: a half-hour of reading, math practice, reading quizzes, spelling words, preparation to take Advanced Reading quizzes, and sometimes home projects. Currently, she is not enrolled in any extracurricular activities, but some of her classmates are. Gymnastics, ballet, football, etc. are all added to these kids’ workloads. That is a lot to juggle at the age of 7!
One afternoon I was picking up my daughter from school and noticed something was “off”. Usually, she takes a while to come from whatever activity she is doing; “slime class” days it takes her up to ten minutes to come to the front. This day, however, she was next to me in a matter of seconds. When I asked her how her day was, she seemed as if she were going to burst into tears and said: “I just had a really hard day today”. So, we drove home, where she was not her usual chatty self, in silence. When we got home, I changed our routine. Instead of dinner, homework, free time, shower, bedtime, I told her to eat dinner and get in the shower. We skipped homework time and while she was showering, I set up a “spa” in her bedroom. I turned on some relaxing music, lit a candle, and when she got out of the shower, we did a little pampering. I painted her nails and did a face mask with her. The simple change and a break from the norm made a dramatic difference and resulted in my daughter feeling rejuvenated.
Since the pandemic hit, kids everywhere have been uprooted from their schedules, their norm, their stability. Parents need to remember that children stress over things, can be anxious, and are intimidated by certain things just like adults. These feelings can overwhelm them and hinder their success.