ORLANDO, Fla. — The pandemic, learning over Zoom and school shootings are all things that can impact children’s mental health.
But even if you sense your child is struggling, how do you get them to open up?
Channel 9 spoke with a certified mental health counselor, who said for young children, a Muppet might just be the answer.
“Stress piles on top of stress, on top of stress, on top of stress,” said mental health counselor Dwight Bain.
And not just a problem for some adults, but for our children too.
Bain said young children don’t have the proper skills to communicate how they feel.
“The child may have been doing school by Zoom, no access to a peer group, feeling lonely, feeling isolated, feeling detached, and for many, feeling very scared inside,” Bain said.
So how do you spot when your child is struggling?
“This child is 6 years old, but they went back and they started wetting the bed or sucking their thumb because psychologically now they’re regressing. It’s an indicator of extreme trauma,” Bain said.
Bain says to look for other indicators like:
• A major change
• A change in physical reactions to stress
• Stomachaches or headaches
• Changes in mood
“There’s a part of the brain called the amygdala and it’s the fight-or-flight response.” Bain said. “When that’s fired up, if it stays in that survival mode see how I’m kind of curled up, it’s because I’m trying to survive.”
But what if a parent doesn’t have the skills to get their child to open up?
“The best therapist to teach this in the world. His name is Elmo. You can go to Sesame Street. There’s a whole section about helping little girls and little boys talk about their emotions.”
Because once you’ve alleviated that pressure for your child, Bain said, “now normal, psychological, and emotional and physical development will occur.”
The key here is providing safety for a child and making sure children have a safe environment, to make safe connections with safe adults.
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