Children are getting a front-row seat to the stress that adults are feeling at this time. As a result, many are experiencing a trickle-down effect of that stress, as well as dealing with major life disruptions. All of a sudden there is a lack of structure due to school and summer programs being cancelled, separation from friends, and fear of the virus itself. These difficulties are exacerbated when children rely on school meals, a family member gets sick, or becomes unemployed. Child depression, thus, is a real concern right now.
The response to the pandemic amongst children spans the full spectrum of emotions, but one thing is certain: children of all ages are having a hard time. For younger children, parents may notice clinginess or regressive behaviors, such as bathroom accidents or thumb sucking. In older children, mood swings and irritability are most likely to be observed. For this age group, being separated from their peers equates to emotional agony.
Changes in mood and behavior are to be expected during this time, until children can start to adjust to these changes. It is understandable that, as a parent, increases in emotional and behavioral challenges can be concerning. It is important, however, to be able to recognize the difference between just normal sadness and what could manifest as clinical child depression.
When children are clinically depressed, they lose interest in activities they typically would enjoy, may it be sports or video games, or even their favorite foods. Other signs of depression are sleeping more or less than usual, and changes in their eating habits. If these symptoms are observed, it does not automatically mean your child is depressed. Rather, these behaviors should serve as a warning—and become a red flag when they persist for several weeks or more, and occur every day.
During this time, seeking professional help may sound daunting, but many counseling practices like ours, are offering in-person therapy, and most are offering Telehealth counseling services to assist with evaluations and establish effective treatment plans. There are also resources available to assist with play therapy for younger children, and text lines and/or online chat services for older children.
Is Your Child Struggling to Adapt to the “New Normal?”
Request a free phone consultation with a member of our counseling team and find out if we can help your child develop effective coping mechanisms to manage stress, depression or anxiety. We are one of Denver’s leading counseling centers, with a team of child counselors and play therapists who are highly experienced in working with children aged 2 and up. We look forward to speaking with you soon.