Children’s Mental Health Matters

Rebecca Highton by Rebecca Highton Additional Needs

Rebecca Highton

Rebecca Highton

I am a mum of twins, one has special needs. I enjoy blogging about life and the reality of parenting.

It has been a rough lockdown for us, to say the least. Along with the confusion of explaining to our three-year olds why they can no longer go to nursery and see their friends, we have also had numerous hospital-stays to contend with.

On 20th May 2020, Alfie had a gastrostomy where he had a MicKey button placed so that he can be fed safely. This was supposed to make him healthy and to ensure he had a safe way to feed due to an unsafe swallow, though this was not the reality. And following that, we have had numerous hospital trips and stays due to complications in addition to the initial time spent in hospital following his surgery.

Initially, Rory and Alfie did well. Though clearly missing each other, and the parent that was not with them, through the incredible technology of FaceTime, both of the boys coped well. And yet as the hospital stays have progressed and the time apart has increased, it has become clear just how incredibly fragile a child’s mental health is.

You are constantly told children are resilient and will ‘get over it’, yet at what cost? As the time spent apart increased, each of them has become more and more unsettled and emotional. Where FaceTime once helped, it has now become a help and a hindrance as when it is over, there are tears and heartache once more.

It is not easy explaining to three-year olds why they cannot see their twin.

It is not easy explaining to Rory why Alfie is in hospital and that we do not know when he will be home. Zak and I swapped for a night so that I could get some rest and spend some time with Rory, and though it was lovely, it also highlighted just how hard things are for Rory to deal with. What had been a lovely afternoon, ended in floods of tears. Bath time triggered Rory’s emotions as he saw Alfie’s bath seat and wanted him home. As he sobbed into my shoulder and asked for his brother, there was little I could do to calm him down.

So, children may be resilient, Rory and Alfie have certainly been through more than most, but they are also fragile. In times of confusion for everyone, try to remember this. Their behaviour may be difficult and challenging, but that is how the emotions are for them, after all, in a world where you can be anything, be kind.

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