In the days before the pandemic hit us, we have already heard of children who suffer from mental health issues. Today, we stand to see more of it happening as we deal with a very different lifestyle of much social isolation.\u00a0 It is imperative that we as parents help our children through their mental state during this time. What can we do? Let\u2019s examine some ways together. Four Pointers To Navigate Through Children's Mental Health 1. Never Assume They Are Fine Because They Look Fine First of all, we should not assume that our children will not succumb to mental health issues. Even if your child looks fine, and is behaving as usual, never take it for granted that all is fine.\u00a0 They may not be able to verbalise what they are feeling or going through, and whilst appearing to behave normally, we do not know what\u2019s going on in their minds. So, the best thing to do is to keep on communicating with them. Ask questions, encourage them to talk about anything and everything. Not only are they not able to verbalise, they may not even realise how they feel. A mix of confusion, sadness, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, etc, are hard for children to distinguish, let alone use the right word to describe to us. We are only able to detect these feelings in them through observation. 2. Listen To What They Say, And The Silence In Between Photo credit: Unsplash It\u2019s not through serious sit-down chats that we find signs of disturbances in a change of their lifestyles. It\u2019s usually through small-talks that they may reveal their true state of mind. This is especially true for younger children. For example, in the midst of playing, they could just utter out of the blue something along the lines of being bored and sad about not being able to head out to the playground. Or missing friends or family and relatives they have not been able to see for some time. These are little signs that we need to take note, and help them to navigate through. If they repeatedly utter such statements, all the more we should not take it lightly, or worse yet, dismiss it by asking them to find something to occupy themselves or take their mind off. To do this, we need to apply active listening, so that we don\u2019t miss a beat of what they are expressing. Listen to what\u2019s said, and listen even to their silences! If they are unusually quiet, prompt them and find out what\u2019s causing their silence. 3. Distractions Are Temporary Measures On the topic of finding things for them to do to fill their time and take their minds off unpleasant thoughts or emotions, this is only a temporary measure. We also won\u2019t be able to distract them all the time. In the long run, it may not help with what\u2019s stirring inside if every time they have such feelings, we hook them up with a screen, a book to read, or toys to play. Brewing problems which not addressed at its roots, do not go away by itself. So facing it head on and doing something about it is a better solution. Whilst we may not be an expert in handling mental health matters, we can always seek out children\u2019s counselling experts. In this day and age, there shouldn\u2019t be a stigma about seeking counselling help. There are free services provided by government agencies and these would be a good place to start. AWAM Malaysia provides counselling services to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, etc. 4. Let Them Feel Their Emotions Photo credit: Pexels It\u2019s also important that they do not suppress their feelings. If they feel sad or frustrated, then let them work through the emotions. If they have to cry it out, so be it. Holding back may be more harmful because negative emotions may accumulate up to the point of overwhelming the child even more. Teaching children to observe, name or label their emotion helps them to identify their feelings and understand it. Only when they have a grasp of it can they learn to manage or self-regulate emotions that sweep through them. Coupled with talking through their emotions and helping them trace how it came about may help to make them feel better over time. We need patience as much as they need it to slowly walk through it together. Self-regulating does not mean we leave them to manage it on their own. Family Support and Holding on Together Photo credit: 123rf When children face mental health issues (or anyone else, for that matter), the best kind of support is the one we receive at home. Whilst it may be very trying and takes time to resolve, this is also the time when we need to be there for them even more. And remember, don\u2019t hesitate to seek professional help for your child. It helps to take a load off you as well, not to mention that it may give you better peace of mind if your child\u2019s mental health seems more severe than you can handle. We know it\u2019s not easy juggling so many roles and responsibilities, so it is also important that we maintain and manage our own wellbeing as we stand up as pillars of support for our family, too. Take time off for yourself to stay balanced and there\u2019s no need to feel guilty if you need time-off for yourself in the midst of everything, too.