The COVID-19 pandemic has brought incomparable amounts of stress to both parents and children. To help your kids cope with stress, Patrick Jensen, MD, board-certified psychiatrist with Peninsula Behavioral Health, says, “Listen, listen, listen. The more you listen to your child, the more they trust that you will not shut down their honest expressions. Try to maintain routines as much as possible. Children may seem to resist boundaries and routines, but at the same time, they thrive with them.”
One boundary to set for youths is limiting screen time when not online for virtual learning. Dr. Jensen suggests, “Exercise and play outside. If there are multiple children in the home, have them engage in cooperative play like foursquare, basketball, or other team sports.” He suggests also limiting the temptation to indulge in too many sweets. “Children are watching how their parents react to stress and will likely model their parents’ behavior,” notes Dr. Jensen.
If you notice a major difference in your child’s mood or behavior that lasts and affects their daily activities, seek help from their primary care doctor.
Get help if your child:
- Is often sad, worried, or fearful
- Has major changes in appetite or sleep needs
- Is spending most of their time alone instead of with friends or family
- Has lower grades or less interest in school
- Is hyperactive, impulsive, or has trouble focusing
- Is self-destructive or overly aggressive toward others
- Hurts, tortures, or kills animals
For more information and resources, visit peninsulabehavioralhealth.org or call (865) 970-9800.