How to know if it is affecting your child.
According to Merriam Webster, the definition of isolate (verb) is “to set apart from others; also : quarantine.” or as a noun, “an individual socially withdrawn or removed from society,” or as an adjective, “being alone.”
I remember about 15 years ago. I was a stay at home mom with two boys, one of whom was special needs, and my husband traveled a lot for work. I can picture the scene crystal clear in my mind. I am standing in the kitchen telling God I would give anything for just a few hours to myself. I had maxed out. I needed a refresh, recharge, chance to just zone out for a bit.
I was very lucky though, if we are being honest. Those moments were very rare for me. I had a great network of friends (thank you, early childhood PTA) and an amazing babysitter who I still thank every time I see her.
Fast forward to present day and I feel the exact opposite of that day in the kitchen. (Disclaimer: our family has made the choice during Covid-19 to do our part and slow the spread by staying home. We know most families cannot do this and respect those who are choosing not to do this but the post is written from the perspective of being at home the last 10 months). We have found creative outdoor ways to see our friends and family but, as you know, it is not the same. I miss in-person live sporting events, and in-person live theatre and new exhibits at museums. I miss hosting people for dinner. I miss annual parties, like our euchre tournament.
On a smaller level, I miss taking my aunt for her haircuts. That was valuable one-on-one time we shared. I miss lunch with my girlfriends. I miss in-person board meetings for Orange Effect.
Do I feel isolated? No. But some days it’s close.
I have a dear friend whom I delivered groceries to every week. She is 87 and up until this past November, was in great health and lived independently. We would visit on her three season porch (with masks). Now she is in a nursing home and she feels completely alone. She is not allowed any visitors. She describes her sadness easily. You can feel the pain.
She is isolated.
Parents with special needs kids are also struggling. This post shares how there is no respite for parents who are quarantining. There is often no therapy, and no available help from school or outside caregivers.
They feel isolated.
I have a young friend who is in college. She is just returning for her second semester. While she is able to live on campus, all of her classes are online and most of her activities are restricted or cancelled. She and roommates find creative things to do but it is not the college experience she was hopeful for. Additionally, because the campus is trying to keep students safe, it’s really hard for her to have visits with family.
In her own way she feels very isolated.
Trends are showing that there is a tremendous increase in anxiety and depression in kids age 6-17 due to the pandemic (and being isolated). As a parent, (speaking from my personal experience), what really stinks is that kids don’t just wake up and tell you that they are feeling sad or lonely. It’s not like a physical ailment where they can say “mom, my stomach hurts.” Because it’s affecting them mentally we have to watch out for signs on our own.
Things like a change in their eating. And this can go either way. Kids can be sad or bored and begin overeating, or under eating.
Their grades may drop.
They may sleep more – or less – again it’s not a flashing sign that warns you, it’s just noticing a significant change in their usual pattern.
They may stop talking to friends or find an entirely new group of friends.
Their room is unusually messy. Sidenote, I know the moms of teenagers are totally rolling their eyes at me but really there is a difference.
They may self medicate. This can include trying smoking, vaping or alcohol, for example.
They are moody, withdrawn, argumentative etc. significantly different than the norm for them.
Keep in mind that although symptoms don’t manifest like physical ones do, treatment can be similar. There are great counselors and medications available to help kids cope. I know there are differing opinions on medications for kids and I tell every parent to consult a professional. My opinion is that just like we have great medicine to fix things that go wrong with our body, we have great things to help us when things go wrong with our mind.