Updated: Sep 1, 2020
In our last episode we spoke about the importance of mental health. We discussed current stigmas that surround mental health in our borderland and how can we address those stigmas with our families, friends and community members.
In the same way, as we prepared for this episode, we soon realized we had to dedicate a full episode to discussing children’s mental health. After all their emotions and feelings are also being impacted by these unprecedented times. We wanted to provide education and tools for our borderland families that can help start these conversations with our little ones.
On this episode, we speak to El Paso Child Guidance Center’s Therapist, Abril Pardon. Abril walks us through what are some of the signs of trauma we need to be on the lookout and how we can incorporate self-care activities for our children now and in the future.
A Deep Commitment to Youth Mental Health
Abril Pardon is a native El Pasoan that provides individual therapy services to children, adolescents, and adults. She graduated from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, with her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies. She then earned her MA in Counseling and Guidance from New Mexico State University with honors.
She has experience working with individuals who have been affected by traumatic events and a variety of mental health related concerns.
How to Start the Conversation
When I think about children’s mental health, I immediately think about Pixar’s Movie, Inside-Out. When I saw that movie, I thought— “Wow, they explained emotions to adults and kids with colors.” Simple as that.
At that moment, I wished I had such a movie to help me better understand emotions from a young age. Luckily, I do see parents getting more involved with their children’s mental health more than ever.
Abril suggests to our audience that the earlier we address mental health with our children, the easier it will get in the future to keep having these conversations with them. Abril encourages families to increase children’s vocabulary, to name their emotions and teach them that what they are feeling is normal.
As we come close to our one-year mark, children might have many questions and maybe as parents we are hesitant to answer those questions. We might think, it can scar them or affect them in any way. However, Abril teaches that it’s better that children get all the information from their parents.
Creativity During the Pandemic
During this lockdown, I’ve grown a deep admiration for all parents. I see friends on social media creating all sort of activities to keep their children entertained and happy. I see colleagues carrying their children while joining a virtual meeting for work. I see everyone doing the best that they can.
Abril suggests keeping that creativity level for our children. Create different ways where they can stay active and social. It’s easy for children to pass their time watching movies or playing video games, but Abril encourages parents to keep their routines as normal as possible. Sticking to their routine, makes everything flow smoother for the child.
However, we do understand that it can be hard for parents. Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. Remember, it’s okay to not feel okay. Parents can take breaks too and there’s no shame in it. If you are feeling any type of way, remember that you are never alone. Abril recommend turning to someone close to you that can speak to your little one or provide activities for them. Also, El Paso Child Guidance Center is always there to help our community.
How Can We Help Children Digest Daily News?
Nowadays, have easy access to technology. Many have tablets, computers, smartphones, etc. Others have access to YouTube, social media accounts and other mediums. Children are really smart, and they are aware of what’s going on around them. How can we help them digest all of the information they intake daily?
First, Abril suggests keeping the door open for so to speak for children, so they know you’re there for support. Try to start the conversation to see how much they know and ask if they have any questions for you. Next, she suggests parents to limit the exposure. Set times in where the kid is exposed to daily news. Encourage kids to engage in other activities. You can’t control the news, but you can control your time and what you do with it.
Next Steps Towards Children’s Healing
There’ a lot of power in asking for help. If your child is feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, please do not hesitate to reach out to our staff at the FRC. It is okay if we don’t feel strong all the time, but we can feel united. We have each other and we will heal together.
We’d love to get the conversation going. Share with us what is your favorite activity to do with your child? Ask your children what they are feeling. It is important to start these conversations to recognize the meaning of mental health in our lives and how it has impacted us.
Press play and take a listen to learn more.