Uncertainty around the COVID-19 crisis can be upsetting for anyone, but kids and teens can have an even harder time handling this stress. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help them manage these feelings and adjust to new ways of celebrating holiday traditions.
Adjusting to big changes in our regular routines can be difficult for anyone, but especially kids and teens. It’s important to recognize when your children may be experiencing serious stress. Signs may include:
- Changes in eating or sleeping
- Acting clingy, withdrawn or anxious
- Trouble paying attention or concentrating
- Headaches or other body aches with no explanation
- Withdrawing from school or activities they used to enjoy
- Going back to behaviors they’ve grown out of, like bedwetting
- Excessive crying or being irritable, as well as “acting out” such as outbursts of anger
- Teens may turn to alcohol, tobacco or other drug use.
- If you’re seeing this behavior or are concerned about how your child may be coping, here are some things you can do to help:
- Share information. Talk with your children about COVID-19 explaining the reasons for these changes at their level. Listen to how they’re feelings and answer any questions they may have. You can also check out resources on how to help talk to your child about COVID-19, such as: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html
- Help them feel secure. Be reassuring about their safety. Validate their feelings — it is OK to feel upset. You can also share how you manage stress to help them learn from you.
- Define boundaries. Limit exposure to news coverage. This includes social media. Make sure your children know they can ask questions at any time.
- Create regular routines. If there is a school closure, set a regular schedule for learning, making sure to include fun activities, too.
- Set a good example. Show your children ways to stay healthy during a quarantine. Help them maintain healthy eating habits and get plenty of rest and physical activity.
- Stay connected. Establish how you’ll communicate with friends and family through available methods — text, phone calls, over the internet or even through letters.
- If you’re concerned about how stress may be affecting your child, speak with their health care provider for guidance.
-  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Manage Stress & Anxiety. Accessed: 3/18/20. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.htmlOpens in a new windowNational Institute of Health: How to Prepare. Accessed: 3/18/20. https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirusOpens in a new windowWorld Health Organization: Tip Sheet “Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak.” Accessed: 3/17/20. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/helping-children-cope-with-stress-print.pdf?sfvrsn=f3a063ff_2 Opens in a new windowPDF