Checking In with Child Mental Health Awareness Month

  • Child Development
  • Health and Wellness
Cindy Hewatt, School Counselor, LMFT

The holidays have passed, we are entering 2nd quarter and the pandemic continues to impact all our lives, it's important to remember our kids and be aware if we see changes that are concerning. It's not uncommon to have a let down after all the activities, or this year, the changes to holiday routines and traditions. The signs to look out for are very similar to those we watch for with adults and teens, take a look at the list below.  

Warning signs that your child may be struggling are:

  • Persistent sadness — two or more weeks.
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions or activities they usually enjoy.
  • Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself.
  • Talking about death or suicide.
  • Outbursts or extreme irritability.
  • Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful.
  • Drastic changes in mood, behavior or personality.
  • Changes in eating habits.
  • Loss of weight or weight gain.
  • Difficulty sleeping or waking up tired.

We all have our moments of being more irritable or sad, that is normal. But if you see any of these signs that are more persistent and last, or are not tied to a situation that accounts for the feelings or behaviors reaching out for support may be the next step. It can be hard to get more of an "I don't know" or "nothing" when you ask how their day was. Using open-ended questions may get the conversation out of one-word answers. 

Questions like:

-What was the best part of your day?

-What could have gone better today?

-Who did you play with at recess? What did you do at recess?

-How do you feel about (a particular subject or assignment)?

Opening up the conversation about how they are feeling about the impact of COVID on their life and remembering for the littles, and not so little, that one year can be a significant portion of their life.  Allow the kids to vent and express their feelings, validate these feelings and then ask them what they need. Maybe they just needed to let it out, maybe they need to FaceTime the grandparents more, maybe they need more support, maybe they need to hear how you cope.  Modeling how you take care of yourself and look for positives and cope with anxiety is a great gift you can give your kids. They are always watching us and learning from us, so practicing and talking about ways to cope is good for both of you.  

 

About the Author

Cindy Hewatt, School Counselor, LMFT

Cindy holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has been a practicing clinician for over 20 years, with almost all of that being in non-profit/alternative school settings. She has worked with children from preschool to high school and enjoys each developmental stage for its own strengths and challenges. Aspen Academy drew Cindy with its small class sizes and custom learning approach for each child. With the understanding that each child has their unique talents, strengths and struggles, it is our privilege to help each student find their best selves by providing a safe, creative and enriched environment.

Outside of school Cindy enjoys spending time with her daughter, a new Aspen Academy student, Ellie. Cindy also enjoys creating art, cooking, reading and exploring the outdoors.