Yes, COVID has been quite stressful for most of our children and perhaps even traumatic for some of them. But that doesn’t mean that they need therapy. How do you know whether therapy is unnecessary at this time? Here’s a quick way to remember: Mild iFIND!
i – intensity
F – frequency
I – interference
N – nature/normal
D – duration
If you notice a problematic behavior but the intensity is low, it doesn’t happen frequently, it doesn’t interfere much with the child’s life or with the lives of everyone around them, if the nature of the behavior is relatively normal and age-expected, and finally, the duration is short, you can safely assume it’ll pass on its own. Of course, keep an eye out. If the symptoms become moderate to severe with respect to iFIND, that’s a different story.
Here’s a quick example. If a 5-year-old child recently became clingy during COVID, but it’s not too intense (intensity), it doesn’t happen all the time unless the parents are going out at night (frequency), it doesn’t interfere too much as the parents can still go on with their lives and the child doesn’t get hysterical (interference), it doesn’t last too long and the child stops the clinginess after a few minutes (duration), we can also remember that clinginess is a normal reaction to anxiety and thus the nature of this behavior is within the realm of normal (nature/normal). Therefore, we might address it with typical parenting strategies.
On the other hand, if an 8-year-old recently started biting or hitting her classmates whenever she gets stressed, even if it doesn’t happen frequently, say only once every 2 weeks, the nature of this behavior is not within the range of normal, typical 8-year-old behavior and therefore needs to be addressed so that the child can learn better emotional coping strategies.