Say hi to Hello Joyous!
An organic, plant-based, sustainable beauty brand here to bring more joy to your day.
You are likely aware that there is another pandemic happening alongside this current one and that is the pandemic of mental health concerns and for this article today, I'm focusing on children. Kids under 12 years old are taking a major hit. In fact, a mental health app in Australia with six million users has seen a 350% increase in children under 12 accessing it and a 150% increase in parents as well.
Young Canadians have reached out to Kids Help Phone more than 4 million times in 2020 and that is double what it was in 2019.
Let's take a look at some of the stats of this pandemic on mental health:
Being a mom to a five-year-old these stats break my heart. Walker and I are doing everything we can to support Vienna. I think she's doing fine, but the stats on other children don't lie.
While our government has pledged more money to hire mental health support workers in Ontario, you can't help but wonder if our politicians have been making the right choice to lock down our cities and isolate us from each other. It's okay to question this and it's important to talk about it!
Even though in-person learning is back on here in Toronto, the damage of social isolation is still an issue because beyond school children are still not allowed to have indoor playdates. This is because the covid-19 rules in Toronto state that you are not allowed to interact indoors with anyone outside your household. Keeping children away from their peers deepens social isolation.
A recent Sick Kid's study revealed that 70% of children and teens in Ontario report worsening of mental health since the pandemic began and much of that is due to social isolation.
We've been following these rules and Vienna hasn't had an indoor playdate since last year but being parents to an only child, not a weekend goes by that she doesn't ask when she can have playdates again.
To mitigate the negative effects of social isolation and support our children's mental health I'm sharing 5 ways to support your child's mental well-being.
1. Get Some Calm Vibes Flowing in Your home
It is no secret that meditation effectively lowers stress and anxiety and has been proven time and time again in thousands of studies worldwide. Rather than waiting till your child seems "off" try to make it a practice a few times per week.
Try Meditation. As you know, I meditate daily and it is how I keep anxiety in check. I use the Calm app for myself and Vienna! They have an awesome "Calm Kids" section with meditations that are only 3-5 minutes long. She loves the Thomas the Train one!
Try Yoga. Cosmic Kids Yoga on Youtube is another great option for younger ones 3-12 years of age with fun and story-themed yoga classes. We do a class 4-5 times per week! They are particularly good when Vienna is cranky or "bored". Jamie, the woman who does the classes is absolutely fantastic!
2. Children need to know they are loved, they are safe and secure
I know I'm Captain Obvious here, but if there's one thing I've learned reading parenting books and subscribing to Dr. Laura Markham's newsletter, children need to feel safe and secure to thrive. How can you provide that environment? It's simple, free and something you can do right now. Give them extra hugs and assurance and let them know they are safe and secure, especially if your child has a lot of anxiety and fear about covid. As the old saying goes...
3. Give them a daily probiotic to support their gut health.
There is much emerging research on the link between gut health and mental health. We now know that gut bacteria play a critical role in our mental well-being and supporting your child's microbiome is key to many factors of their wellness. Serotonin, a key neurotransmitter for mental health and happiness is primarily made in the gut with the help of gut bacteria.
Consider a probiotic. I give my daughter Genuine Health's probiotic for kids every day. It has 7 balanced strains that mimic a healthy gut flora in a yummy chewable. I collaborated with Genuine Health to launch this because I believe in the importance of supporting a child's gut and there are numerous benefits beyond mental health including immune support.
4. Cultivate Togetherness
You might be thinking "no sh%t sherlock", but togetherness does not mean you're all watching TV at the same time or sitting around a table with your nose in a laptop or staring at a computer.
The togetherness I'm talking about is interacting with one another and doing something you all enjoy, together. I've got lots of ideas to cultivate togetherness such as:
5. Check yo'self!
Are you a complete stress-bag of nerves and anxiety?
Children pick up on everything in the home and they are a mirror reflection of you.
If you're not taking care of your own mental health and well-being, how can you expect your child to manage their own emotions in this pandemic? What are your daily rituals to cultivate happiness and calm vibes in your home? It's never too late to start!
There is no perfect way to parent, especially in the current situation we've all been thrown into the last 12 months!! So please don't beat yourself up if you have been struggling. We all have! This pandemic has been easy on no one, and it's been especially hard on parents when the kids are home from school and you're trying to juggle working with homeschooling. You're doing A LOT!
My hope is this post gives you some ideas on ways to support your child's mental health if they are struggling.
Please feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below on how you are cultivating a healthy home for your children to thrive.
Love this stroy. A great and well-needed reminder for us all. thanks Joy!Reply
You're welcome, thanks for taking the time to read it!
We are doing yoga as a family, doing 'Time ins' when emotions get really big, and working more and more on doing even basic things together as a family, like baking, walks, crafts, even watering the plants together! The more we do as a family, the more our toddler gets her cup filled (and ours too) :)Reply
That's amazing Chelsea, I'm so happy to hear that. Thank you for sharing.
Hi Joy, I am so happy you've written this post, to broaden the base of persons realizing the negative impact of lockdowns/masks on children. In the daycare of my daughters, the caretakers had to remove their masks, otherwise babies were crying so much it was impossible to manage. No wonder, babies' brains are wired to recognize a human face by looking at the combination eyes nose lips. Kids have an extremely low chance to get severe COVID disease, and don't significantly spread the virus... What we as a society are doing to our kids is revolting me. I've tried to raise awareness in my own familyReply
Oh my gosh, that is heartbreaking. However, I'm not surprised ... we need to see other people's beautiful smiles for human connection. I'm happy to hear they removed their masks.
A significant post. Thank you!Reply
Thanks for sharing!
Such a great read and many useful tips. We love Allison Twitch! Going to try Cosmo kids yoga. Thanks for sharing!:)Reply
Glad you found my tips useful Heidi! Allison and Twitch are such great mood boosters!
My 6yo and my husband both love your recipes, so that for sure is something I try and do with my daughter. Oh, and I love them too!Reply
So happy to hear that Jenilyn! Thanks for sharing :)
Thank you joy for reposting this! This is so important and to make more people aware. My 19 year old son has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression since the pandemic, and it is heartbreaking to see a once happy grade A student who had lots of friends to socialize with, who was always singing in the shower and throughout the house, to now staying in his room studying and zoom classes and only coming out to shower ( no more singing) and eat. We have after months of waiting just got him into seeing a counsellor. So hopefully it helps. So it isn’t just young children, all ages have been affected by the pandemic in one way or another which is so sad . Thank you for posting this and making your followers aware . I had no idea that so many small children were impacted in these ways due to the pandemic. I will be getting together with other parents, friends and coworkers to to forward your suggestions to parents of children in our community. It is a small step but a start that will hopefully bring parents together and begin a movement to a larger community.Reply
I'm sorry to hear your son is suffering too. Thank you for sharing your story. I do hope that things change soon so that our young people can be with their peers. We are social creatures and need community to thrive for our well-being and longevity. Most people do not know how it's affecting the young ones, so I appreciate you sharing it with your friends.
Thank you so much for this post. My son is 12 and immunocompromised so not in school again this year and being an only child it has been very tough not seeing his friends as much . We are always looking for ways to have fun, enjoy our days and manage his anxiety. You have inspired me look at the positive every day and make this year a special one for him. We love Cosmic Kids, never too old for her fun yoga!Reply
Hi Cindy! So happy this post helped. Glad you're loving Cosmic Kids - it's a true gem! Wishing you and your son joyous health :)