Alicia Drummond, our In-House Parenting & Mental Health Expert looks at the impact of self-isolation on our children and shares her thoughts how they may be feeling and what we can do to help
We are four weeks into isolation and the cracks are showing. Parents are telling me that they are not ok and many are concerned about the mental health of their children, both young ones and teenagers. I think we are in a period of collective mourning with many of us grieving our loss of certainty, of social interaction, of familiar habits and routines. We want our old lives back and we want it now!
It is helpful to understand that grief is a process which will see us going through a number of stages. Unfortunately it is not linear so we can’t tick the box once we have moved through a stage, and there are certainly no timelines to it. That said, I think we can gain a sense of relief if we understand what is happening. If we can explain it to our children and give ourselves permission to fully experience our feelings.
The Kublor-Ross Grief Cycle includes five different stages:
DENIAL – this virus won’t affect us
ANGER – how dare it ruin our lives like this
SADNESS – I am really missing my friends
BARGAINING – if we accept three more weeks of isolation then it will be fine
ACCEPTANCE – it’s happening
Scott Berinato, who worked with Elisabeth Kublor-Ross when she developed this model, has added a sixth stage: MEANING which I like because it builds optimism. What is the meaning in this experience? Perhaps it is the big wake up call we needed to realise how quickly the atmosphere improves when we reduce air traffic. Perhaps it is the realisation that relationships are so much more important than possessions. That it is possible to maintain those relationships despite social distancing. Perhaps it is the opportunity we have to help our children develop those all important soft skills. Finding our meaning and helping our children to find theirs will increase feelings of optimism and build our resilience.
And so I think it is helpful to understand that our children may well be spinning through the grief cycle and feeling all of these big emotions. They might not have the awareness or maturity to process them. They need help from us in the form of an empathic, listening ear and reassurance. See if you can work out where they are and talk to them about it. Explain how in times of huge change and stress it takes time for us to adapt but we can help ourselves by talking about our experience. Focus on the things we can control. Look for the positives. Keep life in balance. Establish some form of structure to our days ensuring you exercise and sleep well. And if all else fails, hang on to the certainty that this will pass and perhaps our new norm will be something to celebrate.
Knowing that many parents are struggling right now Alicia is hosting a daily Facebook Live Q&A every weekday morning at 11am. To join simply head over to the TeenTipsLtd facebook page, like or follow and you will be notified when the Live Q&A is starting. Hop on and ask your questions, share and interact but if you would prefer to remain anonymous, email your questions to email@example.com and Alicia will answer them in the next Q&A.