Stressful. Unusual. Unexpected. Historic. Troubled. Pick your synonym for 2020, it all adds up to a year that has pushed most of us out of our comfort zone and into anxiety. And, if you think this only affects adults, think again.
Many of Montana’s children are struggling with fear, anxiety, and stress. The on-going social distancing, an unusual school year, and family concerns have all created a situation where many feel lost and out of control. At Shodair Children’s Hospital, we understand how important good mental health is and we know there are things we can all do to help the children in our lives avoid getting stuck in a cycle of gloom and despair.
Recreational Therapy and Activities at Shodair are designed to help patients, mostly children, gain experience in areas such as communication and social skills, leisure education, coping skills, and general wellness. “These are skills that everyone needs in order to effectively handle the stress of the uncertain times we are living in,” states Shodair’s Director of Allied Therapy Melissa Nichols. “The same activity can help children develop different skills depending on their ages – middle schoolers making bracelets might be learning how to tolerate frustration, while for high schoolers the same activity is teaching them coping skills and how to identify meaning in an activity.”
Of course, not all learning happens in a classroom and during any time of change and uncertainty, children feel an increased need to know they are safe. We’re all dealing with a lot these days and even many adults are struggling with their emotions, but the children in our lives really need to know that adults are making them a priority and will be there for them no matter what.