By Zeenat Osman-Nieftagodien. 

As we enter the New Year, we made sense of week one and at the foot of end two, we have been weary of making New Year’s resolutions or coining this year “our year”. This is understandable as 2020 taught as many valuable lessons, one being, that we are ultimately not in control of the tide and how the wind blows. However, we have evolved and grown in more ways than one. We have certainly become more resilient and open to exploring new possibilities.

With this said, we have also become more cautious, somewhat brave and afraid of planning and making plans. This is what we need to internalize, plans are made to change, and that change is not a bad/negative/scary thing… We have to accept that with change comes growth and well growth is what will bring us one step closer to self actualization.

Planning as parents also involves choosing what is the best next step for our children (young and old). We have to assist them in navigating rough seas and winds that will come and knock them of course. More often I am asked about red flags, let’s rename this to multicolored flags, when it comes to change and its effects on the youth. Below, please find a list, which would allow you to see what it means to look at the colours of your children;

Change and trauma presents in many ways. We have to ensure that we know the mood, temperament, personality and ever changing interests of children and adolescents to be able to head the warning signs that they display. Please be advised that the below information should be taken with caution, and it is by no means exhaustive enough and there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the younger population.

The physical changes:

  • Complaints regarding the stomach, muscles and headaches.
  • Extreme changes in appearance so as to mask the actual features (not a current trending look).
  • Changes in eating patterns.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns.
  • Changes in mood and temperament.
  • Changes in normal levels of activity.
  • Physical scarring and signs of self harm.

The emotional changes:

These are generally harder to detest for obvious and not so obvious reasons. However, it is not impossible. Remember it is important to know you child, know the patterns and look out for changes and question them (do not interrogate) but ask about the changes and come from a place of perception.

  • What has been lost in your child? This would be very apparent and the first thing you should notice. The major change.
  • Look out for signs of intrusive thoughts.
  • Mood and affect, does what your child says much the mood or behaviour they put out.
  • Has your child become more withdrawn? Or are they acting out uncharacteristically?
  • Does your child speak freely about emotions or are they bottling up what they are feeling or experiencing?
  • When speaking to your child, is there a lot of doom and gloom explained or noted?
  • When speaking to your child, do yo feel they are faking good, by this meaning are they just happy for no reason?
  • What has been fascinating your child and how has this impacted their emotional output?

The social changes:

  • Unexpected changes in social circles.
  • Changes in social events attended or events excluded.
  • Changes in language use.
  • What are your children watching on the television or streaming lately? How has this changed their views and opinions.
  • Changes in social activities.
  • Changes in social media activities.

So, let’s make the New Years resolution, to grow and evolve with our youth and make sure that they navigate this year with relative ease and great knowledge.