Consult the therapist: How can I help my child recover from the pandemic?

In the “Consulting Therapist” series, I will answer all your questions about mental health and psychology. Whether you are struggling with mental health, coping with anxiety about life situations, or just looking for insights from a therapist, a question. Please pay attention to my answer to your question every Friday Healthy Mind Communication.

Our readers ask

“I have lost a whole year of study and activities due to the pandemic. I want to help my children make up for the lost time this summer. What are the most important things I can do to help them catch up with what they should do?”

——Alison, 41 years old

Amy’s answer

“Although you may want to help your child’make up for lost time,’ stuffing too many things in their summer may not help. Let them have fun in normal summer activities, such as cycling, swimming and Go camping. The opportunity to do’normal kid’s things’ is probably the most kind thing you can do for them.”

Control your thoughts and feelings

Take a few minutes to think about your own emotions after you have experienced this year. You may feel many different emotions.

Think especially about your views on your child and your role as a parent. Are you sad that they missed so much? Are you worried that they are falling behind academically? Are you angry that they can’t see their grandparents?

Marking your emotions can help you understand them. It can help you think about what you want your children to do this summer. Just don’t project your feelings onto your child.

Although you think your children have lost a lot of time this year, they may not feel that way. Don’t tell them how bad it is to have to miss school or other activities. You don’t want them to feel this way, because you tell them this is how they should feel.

On the other hand, don’t minimize the stress of the past year. If your child is very frustrated because he can’t play football or missed the homecoming dance, even if you think they are a bit “dramatic”, verify their feelings.

Ask them how they feel

Sit down with your child and think about their experience during the pandemic. Ask questions such as “What is the most difficult part of this year?”

Also talk about positive things. Ask them what they like this year and let them know that it is okay to say that they like certain things, even though the pandemic is difficult for many people.

Discuss how they feel about lifting the restrictions. What are they most excited about? Are they worried? Will they miss parts of the pandemic?

Let them talk openly about their feelings and don’t insert your own feelings. Make it clear that no matter how they feel, it is normal to experience many different emotions at the same time.

Make your family plan

Leave enough space for spontaneous activities this summer. But be sure to plan activities that reflect your family values.

Talk to the children about what they want to do. Whether you decide to meet the extended family or agree to hold a party suitable for children, please arrange some activities to make everything normal this summer.

Resist the urge to fill their schedules with sports, clubs, and organized activities that will make them too busy. After all, we want them to have time to be children after a year.

A large part of this means exploring, playing and having fun when they leave school.

Looking for teachable moments

You will definitely have many teachable moments throughout the summer. Whether you are sharing your gratitude for being able to attend a family gathering in the end, or talking about how some families may have different comfort levels for gatherings, life after the pandemic will be full of learning opportunities.

Although you may think that children have “missed” a lot this year, you may also remind yourself that they have also gained a lot. They may have learned some valuable lessons about how the world works and how people work together to solve problems.

With some of your guidance and support, they may gain more knowledge and skills than before. Therefore, instead of worrying about “making up for lost time,” it is better to focus on how your child can emerge from the adversity they have experienced, feel stronger and better able to deal with any challenges in life.