We are three weeks into isolation and the cracks are showing. Parents are telling me that they are not ok and many are concerned about the mental health of their children, both young ones and teenagers. I think we are in a period of collective mourning with many of us grieving our loss of certainty, of social interaction, of familiar habits and routines. We want our old lives back and we want it now.
I think it is helpful to understand that grief is a process which will see us going through a number of stages. Unfortunately it is not linear so we can’t tick the box once we have moved through a stage, and there are certainly no timelines to it. This said, I think we can gain a sense of relief if we understand what is happening, explain it to our children and give ourselves permission to fully experience our feelings.
The Kublor-Ross Grief Cycle includes five different stages:- DENIAL (this virus won’t affect us); ANGER (how dare it ruin our lives like this); SADNESS (I am really missing my friends); BARGAINING (if we accept three weeks isolation then it will be fine?), ACCEPTANCE (it’s happening). Scott Berinato, who worked with Elisabeth Kublor-Ross when she developed this model, has added a sixth stage, MEANING which I like because it builds optimism. What is the meaning in this experience? Perhaps it is the big wake up call we needed to realise how quickly the atmosphere improves when we reduce air traffic. Perhaps it is the realisation that relationships are so much more important than possessions and that it is possible to maintain those relationships despite social distancing. Perhaps it is the opportunity we have to help our children develop those all important soft skills. Finding our meaning and helping our children to find theirs will increase feelings of optimism and build our resilience.
And so I think it is helpful to understand that our children may well be spinning through the grief cycle and feeling all of these big emotions but they might not have the awareness or maturity to process them. They need help from us in the form of an empathic, listening ear and reassurance. See if you can work out where they are and talk to them about it. Explain how in times of huge change and stress it takes time for us to adapt but we can help ourselves by talking about our experience, focussing on the things we can control, looking for the positives, keeping life in balance, establishing some form of structure to our days, exercising and sleeping well and if all else fails hang on to the certainty that this will pass and perhaps our new norm will be something to celebrate.
To support your child through adolescence and help your family during this very challenging time, you may like to know that we are delivering Live Online Talks for parents and teens – including Parenting During Isolation, First Aid For Your Child’s Mind, Teens & Screens, Developing Resilience in Children & Teenagers and How to Manage Worry, Stress & Anxiety.
Keep up to date on our latest insights, guidance and tips
Saskia Boujo, a relationship and sex educator and author of the book ‘This Period In My Life’ has written a blog on how to talk to your child about periods. Saskia uses ungendered language to encourage young people to value and understand their periods. This is an absolute must if your child is about to start their period, or you just want a little more guidance on how to approach the topic with them.
Alicia went onto the Emma-Jane Show’s podcast to discuss all things teens and mental health. This is a very open and honest conversation about recovery, resilience and Alicia’s journey to where she is today.
The summer holidays have arrived and you might already be struggling to come up with ways to keep your child entertained and off screens. We have put together a few ideas of fun activities for you to do as a family, or alternatively for your teen to do with their friends.
Following the horrific death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been asked for advice on how to talk to children and teenagers about racism.
With young people online more than ever, those who would seek to influence, radicalise or groom them via social media and gaming will be busy. Find out how to support your child and help them stay safe.
We’re offering so much support to families tailored to the current challenges that we are all facing – have a read of our April newsletter for all the details.
We are working with some wonderful therapists across the country and some are offering two free, half hour emergency sessions to teenagers who might be particularly struggling.
A large focus of our work is with schools, helping staff support the wellbeing of children so we are delighted to welcome these two new schools.
when you subscribe to our newsletter