We are all experiencing stress, anxiety, worry and numerous other mental health symptoms during this coronavirus pandemic. As adults, we have many stressors involved with this crisis, worry about jobs, income, bills, and, dominating it all, worry about our health and the health of our loved ones. Those with children need to be aware of the possible signs of mental health symptoms in their children, as they are just as susceptible to stress and worry as you.
Some of the reactions from children and teens come from what they observe and hear from the adults around them. If parents are stressing and showing signs of anxiety, their children will reflect this in their behavior. If the adults are dealing with this COVID-19 crisis calmly and confidently, that will provide the support and reassurance their children need. There are many symptoms your child will exhibit if they are excessively stressed, anxious, or depressed. Not all children respond the same, but there are several signs you can watch for.
Behavior Changes to Watch for in Your Child
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Recurrence of previously outgrown behaviors (toileting accidents, bedwetting, etc.)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school (including online assignments)
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities they enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
You can help your child by being calm and confident, and reassuring them that they are safe. The calmer you are and the more matter of fact you are about the crisis, the calmer your child will be and the safer they will feel. Talk with your child about the outbreak but be calm and provide them with facts they can understand, do not overload them. Conduct any conversations with other adults about the crisis where the children cannot overhear. Limit the news media, not just for your child, but for yourself so that you do not become overwhelmed. Any media young children see may be frightening and difficult for them to process, so avoid their exposure to media as much as possible.
Another approach you can use to limit their stress and anxiety is by keeping your children physically active every day and maintaining a routine. Schedule school time, learning activities, fun activities, and walks or outside play time. Make sure they are getting plenty of breaks, eating correctly, and getting proper sleep on a schedule. It is easy when school is not in session to allow children to play and sleep when they want, but lack of a proper schedule will impact the effectiveness of the sleep they do get. Make sure that you are also getting proper food, sleep and exercise to maintain your own mental health.
If your child is experiencing any of the above mental health symptoms, contact Aspire Counseling Center and speak with one of our mental health experts. Aspire is here to help you through this crisis and anytime you need guidance in maintaining the mental health of you or your family.
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