Cover Story Health

How to guard your child’s mental health during turmoil

How to guard your child’s mental health during turmoil
  • PublishedJune 28, 2024

In the wake of the anti-Finance Bill protests, the country has suffered many casualties, with others even losing their lives.

Unfortunately, some of these victims are children who found themselves in the crossfire between protesters and police.

In addition, young people who were part of the protests have left their parents and friends heartbroken as they lost their lives at such a young age.

Those who were not caught up in the fracas have been left with scars of the trauma, panic and anxiety they went through during and after the protests.

It is therefore important for parents and guardians to step in and ensure that their children are mentally okay during these trying times.

Below are tips to help you achieve that:

Reassure them

Despite their age, children do know when things go wrong. They pick up on situations and emotions much more than they are given credit for.

For instance, children notice when their caregivers are scared or alarmed, and that determines how they react to various situations.

As such, it is necessary to reassure them that they are safe and that you as their guardian are there for them.

Make room for conversation

Children are exposed to many kinds of people and opinions that you have no control over, and this is especially true during periods of unrest.

As a parent, the only way for you to know their thoughts is by making room for conversation and listening to them. That way, you create an opportunity to help them understand the issue better.

Explain the situation

It is important that your child learns about what is going on from you, and not others. This way, not only are you confident that they understand the issue, but that they will also share accurate information that you can back up if need arises.

Use age-appropriate language and examples to avoid overwhelming your child.

Limit media exposure

Children are highly impressionable and are easily influenced by media. This means that it is easy for them to echo media content, even though it may not be truthful or accurate. Graphic images or videos can also cause high levels of emotional and psychological distress in children.

Monitoring the content they consume and limiting how long they interact with it plays a big part in ensuring their mental health.

Introduce fun activities

Engage your children in fun activities that allow them to disengage with the media and decompress. These include games, nature walks or watching an episode of their favourite cartoon with them.

Seek professional help

For children who show signs of mental distress such as mood swings, irritability and changes in eating and sleeping patterns, do not hesitate to take them for counseling by a certified professional.

The Kenya Counselling and Psychological Association (KCPA) has shared a hotline number-

0726-068933 that anyone can contact for help.

Written By
Neema Odhiambo