Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Written By: Ishebah Johnson BSN, RN
“There are some things you can control – COVID-19 isn’t one of them”
Our lives have been turned upside down by an invisible enemy. No more play dates, eating out on Fridays with the kids as a treat for a hard week and no more catching up with friends to blow off steam. The new catchphrase for adjusting to this global pandemic is creating a “new normal”.
Parents – your children feeds off of your energy and if you show fear, uncertainty, panic, and/or unhealthy stress levels, your child’s anxiety will surely skyrocket. This could present as irritability, anger, sadness, or depression.
When parents and caregivers are calm, educated to the facts when dealing with COVID-19 and prepared, they can provide the best support for their children. Our children are vulnerable right now and need to see mom and dad united in this effort – not adding additional tension or stress to an already complicated, socially confined lifestyle.
According to experts on kids coping with the effects of coronavirus, it is so important to “allow your kids to feel”. Don’t ignore or mute these emotions – in fact “Label it”. Ask, are you sad, angry? Just emotional? The better you’re able to narrow down the exact feeling your son or daughter is exhibiting, the better you are at having supportive conversations.
Clinical research has demonstrated that one way to help regulate your emotions is to identify them.
Ways to support your child
First and foremost be aware of some of the behavioral changes in your child. Not all children respond to stress/anxiety the same. Here are some common behaviors to look out for:
Avoiding activities once enjoyed in the past
Unhealthy eating or sleeping·
Excessive crying with young children
Irritability or “Acting Out”
Tips to Help Parents/Caregivers:
Have a laugh – do something fun and build it into your family’s daily routine. Isolation play is good in moderation of course, but why not join them! Play is a natural stress reliever for kids...and some adults too!
An exercise routine keeps the body happy and healthy. How your body feels can have an impact on how you are emotionally feeling. Studies have shown physical activity releases chemicals called endorphins. These “happy chemicals” trigger positive feelings in your brain according to experts. So, go take a walk around your neighborhood while you practice social distancing.
More importantly, reassure your child/teen that they are safe. Share with them your feeling/coping mechanisms so they can learn from you.