Impacts of the pandemic: keeping an eye on the mental health of children – Saúde

Doctors Thanguy and Patrícia Friço say it’s essential for children to understand their own emotions
(photo: Livia Batistine Friço/Disclosure)

Parents are always concerned about the health of their children. When they’re little kids, then, any cough sets off the warning signal and sends them running to the emergency room. But just as important as noticing the slightest physical change in children is keeping an eye out for their mental health. “Emotionally healthy children are not those who don’t cry, are frustrated or irritated, but those who constantly improve their understanding of their own emotions,” explain doctors Thanguy and Patrícia Friço.

The pandemic has brought new thoughts in this context. A whirlwind of feelings comes to the surface, and the children have to deal with it. At this stage, according to doctors, it is worth emphasizing the concept of emotional intelligence – the ability to recognize one’s own feelings, understand those of others and know how to deal with them. “When children have improved their emotional intelligence, they regain the serenity and discernment necessary for the proper functioning of their cognitive functions,” they say.

Patrícia points out that the difficulty of living with one’s emotions can cause a series of problems, not only emotional, but also physical, and invites parents to pay attention to signs that may indicate a certain degree of imbalance. She cites examples such as problems concentrating on daily tasks, heightened irritability, lack of control, insomnia, gastritis, headaches and muscle aches, and depression.

The doctor warns parents to also look for signs that their children are suffering from anxiety. “According to research conducted by Professor Fernando Asbahr, of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo (USP), around 10% of children and adolescents already suffer from anxiety,” he says. In other words, anxiety at this time of life is already a reality, which can become a serious problem if left unchecked, as it impairs development and makes simple daily tasks difficult. And that’s what happened with the pandemic.

ENDORFINE

In addition to dialogue, Thanguy suggests trying to find activities that help relieve your children’s symptoms. According to the doctor, the practice of physical activity is a good ally in these times, because it releases the hormone endorphin, which is very important in the fight against anxiety. Another key point is to ensure that the child has a balanced diet. “This is key to reducing the likelihood of disordered eating related to typical childhood emotional issues,” he says.
Roberta Lessa Rossi and Gotardo Gomes, with their daughters Sarah, Luísa and Bella
Lawyers Roberta Lessa Rossi and Gotardo Gomes, along with their daughters Sarah and Luísa, had to deal with the birth of Bella in the midst of a pandemic. (Photo: Lorena Alves/Disclosure)

“They went back to school, they do gymnastics, they expend energy. The fear faded. They saw that the disease was under control”

Roberta Lessa Rossi lawyer


Pleasant and healthy life

The couple of doctors insists on the importance of the follow-up and the resolution of these problems within the family. They claim that it is at home that the first social interactions take place, which are important for a person’s physical, cognitive and emotional development. “It is therefore essential that all members of the family are involved and concerned about living in a pleasant and healthy way”, they plead.

They remember that parents are the primary examples of health and emotional control for their children. The child certainly observes the way in which he manages his feelings, in order to manage his own.

“So look for healthy ways to deal with and express how you feel. It’s also important for your child to see how you get out of situations where stress pushes you over the edge, as well as to show your children that they can keep the control of stress, emotions and who will always be present at their side. At this stage, there is a sea of ​​​​confused emotions, so children need to have parents who are emotionally stable,” they point out.

Even though it looks like the pandemic is better under control, that may be a mistake, doctors say. Epidemics will likely continue to occur in waves, even with mass vaccination of the population. “Parents and educators will have to learn to live with the new realities and also with the forms of communication of the new generations, to provide the necessary support to their children to face this new moment.”

OTHER DISEASES

In approaching the theme of the pandemic, Thanguy and Patricia continue, it is necessary to guide children on the need to preserve their health in order to deal more adequately with this and all the other illnesses that may arise. “If we manage to control the four links of health (healthy diet, daily and regular physical activity, restorative sleep and emotional control), we will be much better prepared to face any challenge that will arise from diseases that may arise, because we build health on solid foundations,” they argue.

PREGNANCY DURING THE PANDEMIC

The family of lawyers Roberta Lessa Rossi, 40, and Gotardo Gomes, 42, has grown amid the pandemic. Daughters Sarah, 11, and Luísa, 7, have just had a little sister, little Bella, 1 year and 5 months.

But going through a pregnancy amidst all the coronavirus issues hasn’t been that easy. Roberta says the girls were afraid something could happen to the baby and the parents themselves. Isolated from everything, the family was confined to the space of the house; the girls were deprived of the close relationship with their maternal grandparents, in addition to all the fear of the disease itself, especially when following the news.

“They were afraid to leave the house, get in the elevator and make someone infected. Luísa, more sentimental, was afraid, afraid. When her father left for work, she cried for fear that he would fall ill. Sarah, always restless and full of energy, stuck at home, she ended up feeling stressed, nervous, irritated”, says Roberta.

Shortly after Bella’s birth, the whole family contracted COVID-19. The youngest had a fever for 24 hours, Sarah and Luísa had mild symptoms, such as a runny nose, Roberta and her husband got a little worse, but hospitalization was not necessary.

Eventually, the experience calmed them down, realizing that the disease was not manifesting itself in such a severe way. Little by little, life resumes its course. “They went back to school, did gymnastics, spent energy. The fear faded. They saw that the disease was under control, everything will be fine, everyone will be fine “, says Roberta.

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