During this time, children and adults are more at risk for developing mental health issues due to isolation and anxiety/fear. It is important that while helping your child learn about and take precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19 that you do so in a calm and reassuring way. In order to be well prepared to deal with stress and depression, parents should educate themselves on the warning signs. Younger children may exhibit excessive crying/irritation or returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting). Teens and younger children may express more signs of excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits or Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens. They may also have difficulty with attention and concentration and avoid activities that they used to like in the past. Physical symptoms of stress include headaches and stomach issues. The first step to addressing signs of stress and depression is knowing how to recognize the symptons.
Although parents may want to avoid some of these signs, it is important to support your child/teen by addressing the signs early on. First, taking time to talk to your child or teen and allowing them to ask questions and share their fears is a healthy way to help them understand the risks and safety precautions. It is important to reassure your child/teen that they are safe and share your own methods of coping with stress. Keeping up regular routines and making sure that students have a release for stress during the day is important. It could be painting, drawing, journaling, playing board games, building or creating a project will allow students to release stress. It is also important to make sure you children and teens get some form of exercise each day and have a social outlet with peers even if it is online. Finally, children and teens should take breaks during the online school day, get plenty of sleep, and eat a healthy, well balanced diet. Mental health is as important as physical health and the good news is there are lots that parents can do to promote healthy habits.