Just as we adults are struggling to manage our stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis, so are our children. Like adults, not all children will experience the same levels of stress, but all children can benefit from extra support from the adults in their lives. Stress and anxiety can look differently in children so here is a list of possible behavior changes to watch out for that may indicate that your child is struggling.
Is you child exhibiting any of these symptoms?
- Emotional outbursts, excessive crying or irritability.
- Resurgence of behaviors that your child has outgrown such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Teens may act out or engage in rebellious behavior, including alcohol, drug or tobacco use
- Eating and sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawing from friends and family, or being afraid to go outside
- Poor attention and focus, poor school performance, or school avoidance
- Unexplained complaints of headaches, stomach aches, or body aches (obviously some of these symptoms can be symptoms of illness, so monitor to rule out illness before assuming they are caused by stress).
While these behaviors may be concerning, there are ways that you can support your child and help them manage their stress and anxiety.
Ways you can help support you child who is anxious or feeling stress related to COVID-19
- Talk to your child. Be calm and reassuring and open to answering their questions. Share information in a simple, age appropriate way.
- Limit your child’s exposure to news coverage and social media coverage of COVID-19. Explain that not all news information, especially on social media is accurate. Excessive exposure to news coverage can lead to higher levels of stress and information can be misinterpreted by a child causing the child to become more fearful.
- Be available to child when they want to talk, and reassure them that it is normal to worry or to be scared. Share with them how you manage your own stress.
- Reassure your child that they are safe. You can talk to your child about the actions that have taken place, such as schools closing or mom and dad working from home to help keep people safe.
- Maintain routines. Many children are not attending school right now, but routines can help children feel secure as they know what to expect from day to day. Make time in your daily routine for both school and play activities.
- Remember that many children have little or no experience with online learning and many are struggling to focus due to stress. It may be helpful to plan several breaks during the school portion of your day to help children with focus.
- Encourage your child to go outside. Getting out of the house and getting fresh air is important for everyone. Just maintain social distancing. Take walks as a family or play in the backyard. It’s important to move your body!
- Practice what you preach! Kids are always watching, so lead by example. Take good care of yourself, so you can care for your family.
- Limit screen time before bed, as this can make falling asleep difficult. If possible create relaxing routine before bedtime such as taking a bath or reading books to help children ease into bedtime.
- Get help if you need it. Many mental health professionals are still providing services via telehealth, which can be accessed by computer or on your phone. Children and teens can benefit from therapy, even online. If you feel that your child or teen needs support beyond what you can provide, please reach out and make a virtual appointment with your local mental health provider.
As parents, it’s normal to worry about your children; especially during such a concerning time. It can feel difficult to be a patient and responsive parent when you are struggling with your own stresses and worries. Be kind and patient with yourself, do the best that you can and remember this will pass. Stay safe and healthy!
If your child is struggling with anxiety COVID-19, don’t wait. Seek Help Today.
You don’t need to feel alone. We have a team of caring professionals who can help you and your child get through this very difficult time. We are just a virtual telehealth call away.
Call Waterford Counseling Services at 630-898-5322.
More Information about Covid-19 can be found at:
Blog submitted by Shannon Corn, LCSW