Does your child think you are the enemy?
Has her/his behaviour changed drastically?
Is your child constantly low on energy?
These are just some of the signs that your child could be grappling with emotional issues, says Nakshi Satra, founder, In:ha Wellness.
The pandemic has created unprecedented changes our lives.
As adults tried to grapple with the situation with maturity, most kids and teens experienced a sudden change in their lifestyle that affected them deeply.
Every incident impacts each person differently.
As adults, we can understand our feelings and emotions better. Children, on the other hand, find it difficult to pinpoint the source of their behavioural changes. As a result, they often act out.
They might not communicate clearly using words but, as parents, one should be on the lookout for actions that might speak otherwise.
Here are some signs that will help guardians understand if their teen/child is grappling with mental health issues caused by this long on-going pandemic.
Let's look at it from a threefold perspective -- physiological (physical signs), psychological (emotional signs) and psychosocial (social skills).
1. Dip in energy
Your child is constantly low on energy.
His/her movements seem slow, lethargic and tired. They may complain of constant fatigue or disinterest in any kind of physical activity.
2. Extremely high energy
Your child is overly energetic most, or all, of the time.
His/her movements seem racy, hurried and panicky. This could be a sign that unresolved stress in the mind is impacting the body.
3. Aches and pain
There's a constant ache or pain in some part of the body without any underlying medical reason or condition.
This again could be an indicator of anxiety or unresolved emotional issues, manifesting themselves in the body.
4. Overeating or undereating
You might notice a pattern wherein your child is continuously going overboard with a certain kind of food like sweets, sodas, savouries or just generally eating more than usual.
The pattern can be the complete opposite too -- your child barely eats even at mealtimes. These changes could be linked to emotional eating.
Your child doesn't feel like engaging in any conversation with family members at home.
This kind of withdrawal is sometimes okay for a day or even a week, as it is normal for teens to undergo such phases. However, if it persists beyond a few days, it should raise concerns about her/his emotional wellbeing.
2. Mood swings
Is your child exhibiting constant and uncontrollable mood swings, fuelled by emotions such as anger, fear or anxiety?
If these are the drivers for a lot of outbursts and arguments, it's time to sit up and have a chat or seek help.
3. Toxic positivity
If your child seems overly excited and happy 24/7 -- even during occasions that are sad or serious -- it definitely means that s/he is masking her/his emotions under the garb of 'toxic positivity'. This means they pretend to be happy at all times, irrespective of the situation.
1. Overuse of gadgets
The continuous usage of the TV, mobile phone, laptop or iPad and preferring to constantly be indoors are definite danger signs.
While staying indoors has become a way of life because of COVID, being constantly gadget-obsessed leads to a lot of anxiety and restlessness in day-to-day life.
Psychosocial development is also hampered when this behaviour persists.
2. Cutting off social connections
If you feel your child doesn't feel like meeting or talking to his/her friends for extended time periods, do have a conversation with them.
It is crucial to understand the reason behind this change in behaviour.
*Are these signs the only way to identify whether your child needs help and support?
Not quite, as every young mind is different and unique. No two children will behave in the same way.
Here are some other indicators parents should look out for:
Loss of interest in things they previously liked
If your child is suddenly disinterested in activities they enjoyed doing earlier and no longer want to engage in them, you should be watchful of their behaviour.
Maybe your child has developed another set of hobbies and that's fine. However, if s/he is reluctant to indulge in anything else, it could be a matter of concern.
Upset sleep cycle
Sufficient sleep is crucial for the growth and development of your child.
That being said, sleeping too much, or too little, can trigger several health issues. If your young one is either going to sleep too soon or late, or if they s/he is sleeping too much, do have a word with him/her.
Difficulty in concentrating
It is easy for children to get distracted; however, when their mental health is suffering, they often fail to concentrate, think clearly and make decisions.
If your child looks severely out of focus, it is advisable that you help them get over their problems.
Difference in opinions
If your child continuously chooses to disagree with you and seems to disobey everything you are saying, there are most likely underlying issues.
During this phase, you will experience that your child is challenging you by saying things like 'What will you do if I do this?' or 'I don’t care what you have to say, I will do things my way!'
Increase in sibling rivalry
It is common for siblings to frequently fight and argue. However, if your child becomes increasingly irritable with their sibling, then you must not ignore it.
Often when a teen/kid is suffering, they start comparing what you do for them with what you did for their sibling. For instance, they might say, 'You only give permission to her and not me!' In such cases, try having open conversations with your children. Don’t let such feelings fester and grow.
Refusal to seek help
Some children find it difficult to ask for help. They often act out and try pushing their parents away.
If your child refuses your support, don’t force it on him/her.
Try reaching out to them with patience.
Sit and speak with them. More importantly, listen carefully to what they say; you might just figure out the root cause of their problems.
Picking up harmful habits
A child’s mind is very impressionable. While they are going through an emotional phase, they often start viewing their parents as the enemy.
When such thoughts persist, they become more susceptible to bad habits like the overuse of alcohol, drugs and smoking.
It is always better to have open conversations about these things and to educate your child about how detrimental such habits can be.
Your child might enter a phase where s/he doubts their capabilities. They develop a sense of not being 'good enough'.
In today’s world, many factors can lead to such thoughts, feelings and emotions.
As parents, keep reminding your child how valuable they are.
You must reassure them that they are unique in their own way.
Words of encouragement and motivation will help them keep self-doubt at bay and regain their lost confidence.
It is normal for children to go through these stages every once in a while. However, if it seems like an unending one, if it gets worse or if your parental intuition says something isn't right, then do talk to your child and seek help.