Mental Health Check-Ins With Young Children

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March 29, 2020

It’s no secret that times are certainly strange right now with all of us being home, and only home. As adults, we have all had our mini- and not-so-mini- breakdowns from all of the reoccurring questions…

How long will this last? Am I doing enough? I feel like I’m working more? Is my job essential or should I really be staying home? But we need the money… Should I be using this time to only focus on my family? Is my extended family practicing self-quarantining well enough? Will I ever see them again? Am I teaching my children well enough? Where is money going to come from? How much food do I need to get?

The list of unknowns go on, and on and on…

It’s a lot! So imagine all of the confusion that must be occurring for the young minds who can’t fully grasp the severity of it all?

Where are my friends? Why are my parents sad and worried? Why aren’t they going to their work? Why am I only seeing my teachers on the computer? Why can’t we go out to eat? Why can’t I see my cousins? Why can’t I hug my parent as soon as they walk through the door? When can I go back to school?

A lot of the kids were just starting to tap into understanding what emotions mean at school. Things can be confusing for them being thrown into so many emotions at once!

I’d like to share a useful tool I came across from an adult’s bullet journal. They actually used a more advanced coloring sheet to track how their anti-depressants were working, which I thought was brilliant! I figured we can simplify the concept for kids, too.

This is a mental health-tracking coloring sheet that you can print out.

Your child can assign each emotion with a color, after a conversation about each emotion and what they mean. There is a little section for each morning/night for each day of the month. I found this one on Pinterest, but there were a few more advanced coloring sheets for older kids, or even adults!

I think this would open some doors for talking about emotions for those friends who may not have the confidence in talking openly about their feelings, or who are having a hard time pin-pointing why they’re feeling the ways they feel.

Remember to also remind your child (and yourself!) that feelings aren’t just “good or bad”. Rather, they are tools to help us regulate! Feelings such as anxious or stressed help bring things that seem “off” to our attention 👆 Use the question “What is this feeling trying to tell me?” as a rudder to steer that boat to self care! Yeah, I just threw in a metaphor.

Hope this is helpful. Let us remember to tend to our little ones’ hearts and minds just as much as we are “keeping them busy and distracted” during this very confusing time. And don’t forget to tend to yourselves, too, Team Adult 

This is a pretty good, interactive book for young children to break down some simple feelings:
Listening to My Body: A Guide to Helping Kids Understand the Connection
by Gabi Garcia

This is an excellent resource for talking to your children about COVID19:
https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/NASN/3870c72d-fff9-4ed7-833f-215de278d256/UploadedImages/PDFs/02292020_NASP_NASN_COVID-19_parent_handout.pdf

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