The COVID crabbies, the lockdown lows, the quarantine blues…it goes by several names. But each describes how the recent pandemic and its effects have caused our moods to be a bit depressed. But adults aren’t the only one being affected. Sadness in children is also common during these unusual times. Like parents, children have been forced to deal with a variety of changes. Virtual school, cancelled sports practices, and missed birthday parties have robbed children of their social experiences. Likewise, children may be concerned about their own family being affected by the coronavirus. Any of these can be enough to cause kids to be depressed during lockdown.
Given the events of 2020, it’s not surprising many of us are dealing with depressed feelings and moods. From this perspective, sadness in children is a perfectly normal response. But at the same time, it’s important for parents to know how best to manage a child who is depressed during lockdown. Several strategies are effective in managing the quarantine blues, and many are helpful for children as well.
The following are eight such strategies that you might want to consider if your child appears depressed during lockdown.
Be a Good Role Model for Your Child
Children are not the only ones dealing with sadness, stress, and a depressed mood. Parents are as well. But depending how well we manage our own feelings can affect how well our children handle the quarantine blues. Acknowledge when you’re moody or sad. Express your feelings and let your child know what your experiencing. In this way, you can serve as a good role model for your child and help them understand their own emotional reactions. This can go a long way in helping them deal with any depressed feelings they have.
Allow Your Child Opportunities to Express
Naturally, you encourage your child to express their feelings of sadness when you do the same. But sometimes, parents must provide specific opportunities for these expressions of sadness in children. Asking open-ended questions about how they feel about not going to school or not seeing their friends can promote expression. Likewise, helping children explore their feelings during outbursts can also help. These opportunities teach children how to better identify the feelings they are experiencing. Even using terms like the quarantine blues and COVID crabbies might help.
Offer Encouragement and Support
Though expression may help kids with the quarantine blues, they often benefit from other supports. After all, each of like to have someone who understands how we feel and offers us encouragement. Though this seems intuitive, parents may become overwhelmed in dealing with their own stresses during the pandemic. Therefore, it is important to take the time to offer support and encouragement to children. You might even be surprised that your child may provide you with some desperately needed support as well.
Make Sure Your Child Has the Facts
Nothing is worse that not knowing the real facts. A child’s imagination can create an array of vivid scenarios that may be much worse than the real situation. Understanding this, parents should make sure to educate their children about COVID-19 and the reasons social distancing is important. A little bit of education can go a long way and prevent sadness in children from getting worse. Dealing with the known is often better than dealing with the unknown.
Create Routines and Schedules
Just as knowing the facts can deter being depressed during lockdown, so can routines. By creating a schedule each week for your child, they maintain a sense of stability amidst these chaotic times. In essence, a routine creates a feeling of control that can reduce any worries or stress they might be feeling. While this may not prevent sadness in children completely, it can help them in dealing with their feelings. Thus, these are great parenting techniques to make the quarantine blues less severe.
Let the Little Stuff Slide
While routines and schedules can be effective, it’s also important for parents to avoid too many rules. It’s difficult enough being unable to see friends and attend normal activities. Combining this with excessive rules at home, children may become even more depressed during lockdown. In dealing with the quarantine blues, it is therefore important to let some of the small things slide. By cutting some slack, you allow them some space to better deal with the tough emotions they are experiencing.
Include Physical Activities Each Day
Exercise is a natural mood-enhancer and energy-booster for kids and adults alike. Therefore, including physical activity in your child’s routine each day can help ward off the quarantine blues as well. Play a game of tag or shoot some hoops with your child. These types of activities not only create special memories that help you bond better. They also provide stimulation for the body and mind making sadness in children less profound. It may be difficult to get your child to participate if already depressed during lockdown. But if not, it is a great way to help prevent the quarantine blues.
Create a Positive Spin to Brighten the Mood
Positivity works, and it’s something every parent should try to prevent a child from being depressed during lockdown. By looking for the benefits to each situation, less emphasis is placed on the negative. And positive thoughts and feelings have been shown to reduce sadness in children and adults alike. These effects appear to occur at a neurochemical level of our brains. Thus, by putting a positive spin on things, you will not only help your child’s quarantine blues but also your own.
When Sadness in Children Isn’t Just Sadness
It is important to recognize that sometimes sadness in children is more than just a reaction to the current setbacks. When overt depression develops, it is important to seek professional help and guidance. Sadness lasting more than 2 weeks, poor interest in normal activities, and sleep and appetite changes are important signs. If these are evident, then talk with your pediatrician about next steps. But otherwise, the above techniques can greatly help prevent sadness in children from becoming overwhelming. In fact, these same strategies might help you as a parent as well in dealing with your own quarantine blues.