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Parents Can Help Children Deal With The Stress of COVID-19 Precautions
CLARION CO., Pa., (EYT) – Dealing with the restrictions in place due to COVID-19 is stressful for everyone. The disruption of lives caused by the closing of schools and workplaces is a challenge for families trying to adjust.
Families facing unexpected downtime don’t have the usual options to fill time. Gatherings are discouraged, and destinations such as restaurants and recreation facilities are closed.
It’s a tough time for everyone, but this deviation from our regular routines can take its toll on children.
David Delvaux, Clinical Liaison at the Clarion Psychiatric Center, says some signs that children are feeling stressed include the following:
– Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
– Returning to behaviors that they have outgrown
– Excessive worry or sadness
– Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
– Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
– Difficulty with attention and concentration
– Unexplained headaches or body pain
“The best way to determine if your child is stressed is by asking them directly.” He advises. “If kids see that you care about how they are feeling, they will usually tell you what is wrong. TALK WITH YOUR KIDS!”
Ronald Palmer, Psychologist with Rural Mental Health Associates, Inc. in Oil City, reminds us that children will be looking at the adults for guidance.
“Children tend to get their sense of the world and sense of safety from their parents,” he said. “If, as a parent, we are overly anxious or fearful, our children sense this and likely reflect that. I often remind folks that if we want our kids to be OK, we need to model that sense of OK-ness.”
“I think that helping kids to see what is happening as an adventure is a wonderful way of dealing with this, building blanket tents, and having a picnic in them. For us as parents, looking at this time as an opportunity to learn more about our kids, to teach them about how to face fear and anxiety, to develop self-confidence and teach this to our children.”
Devices such as video games, computers, and streaming services provide entertainment during the unexpected downtime, but probably should be limited.
“I don’t think that it is ever good to spend “a lot” of time in front of the television or computer,” Palmer said. “However, I think this is a reality of our age. Everything in moderation is the thing I recommend to folks. I also think what we are watching on TV or computer matters.”
However, during social distancing, computers and cell phones are useful tools for video chatting and keeping in touch with friends and family members.
Social isolation may also be a good time to go back to simple entertainment such as board games, puzzles, and crafts.
It’s a good idea to plan for some activity, Delvaux explained.
“Plan exercise time. With mild weather, take walks, hikes, or bike rides. With harsh weather, look for online video and written workouts that can be done at home with little or no equipment.”
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