Children's Mental Health During COVID-19

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 crisis has affected everyone, children included. From suddenly losing their daily routines, access to fun activities, not seeing their friends every day, and having to adjust to a new way of learning, children have been expected to handle a lot of changes in a very short period of time. Additionally, many children have a hard time effectively discussing and managing strong feelings. Stress in children is not always evident as children do not demonstrate the same symptoms that adults do.

How can I tell if my child is stressed?

  • Children may manifest their stress in the following ways:

 

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Changes in behavior, including heightened aggression, withdrawal, or clinginess

  • Hoarding items that seem insignificant (toys, notes, snacks, etc.)

  • Bedwetting

  • Nightmares and trouble sleeping

  • Upset stomach or increase in illnesses

  • Eating too much or too little

 

  • The biggest indicator that something is going on is that your child is acting outside of their usual character. If your child has always been a picky eater or usually wets the bed, then bedwetting or a low appetite may not be a good indicator that your child is stressed. However, if your child normally has a healthy appetite and suddenly begins to avoid meals, or your typically active child is suddenly very still and quiet, you may want to observe for other symptoms and consider your options.

How do I help my child feel less stressed?

  • Communication and Engagement

    • Understand that children communicate differently from adults. They may not realize that they are stressed; only that there is something that makes them unhappy or uncomfortable. Pay attention to sudden illnesses that manifest at the same time every day, or right before a specific activity.

    • If your child is old enough to discuss their feelings, try working with them to find solutions to reduce their stress while participating in daily activities and responsibilities. This may include working with a professional who can help the entire family incorporate helpful strategies in the family’s routine.

    • If your child is too young to discuss their feelings, ty to identify soothing elements, such as sounds, toys, and textures to help alleviate their stress.

  • Structure and Support

    • Children are typically calmer when they are able to prepare for upcoming events. When they are provided with appropriate language to describe their feelings, and identify calming strategies before a tense situation, they tend to feel more empowered and in control.

    • A daily schedule and routine, especially during uncertain times, can help alleviate stress for children. Be sure to include fun and activities your child enjoys!

    • If you find that you are struggling to help your child with their stress, please reach out to speak with one of our therapists.  

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