Emily Stone, LICSW, social worker and Senior Clinical Strategist at Mightier
I hung up the phone after making a dentist appointment the other day and was shocked, “Did she just say, ‘You are confirmed for your appointment on May 13th, 2021.’? She must have made a mistake” I thought. But she did not, it is indeed 2021.
In some ways, this year has felt like a flash of lightning and we were somehow teleported to March 2021 and in others, it has felt like the longest year ever.
Whatever your experience of the past year has been, wrapping our heads around what has happened, what is currently happening, and what will happen is very difficult. With so much uncertainty and loss, it can be unclear what to do next.
As adults, we have some say in the decisions we make to help ourselves when we are struggling. We can confide in friends, go to a therapist, exercise when we want to, or choose things that comfort us when we need it most.
It can sometimes be hard to remember that many kids do not have the experience yet to know what helps them cope. Many have not found words to describe what they are feeling quite yet and do not have practice with asking for what they need.
While we continue to move towards “normal” our natural tendency will be to jump back to how things were and try to forget what this past year brought us. While it may feel long-awaited and excited for some, others may feel fear, loss, or anger coming out of this difficult year.
No matter your own feelings regarding the next phase of the pandemic, what we must not forget is to check in with kids. They may be eager to get back to their old routines and transition past the past year just like us adults, but they will still carry memories and big feelings along with them which may arise and they may not know what to do with those feelings just yet.
Ask your child how they are feeling about changes. Model for them what you do to take care of your own mental health when things feel hard. Express a wide range of emotions to them and share that every feeling right now is real, valid, and important. Encourage them to ask for help when they need it. And most importantly, just listen.