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How Coronavirus May Be Affecting Your Child’s Mental Health

August 20, 2020 • Our Blog • General Health
Everyone is struggling with the mental and emotional toll of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but your children may not be able to fully express what they’re feeling or what they need. With activities canceled, travel plans postponed, and in-person socializing on hold, nearly everyone is struggling with isolation, disappointment, and restlessness (at the very least) during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Children are no exception, and because they may have yet to develop the communication and coping skills to process their feelings, they may be experiencing these emotions even more acutely. Though it’s natural to experience negative emotions, it’s very important that those emotions don’t develop into trauma. Trauma is defined as an event so extraordinarily stressful that it disrupts one’s sense of security and overall well-being for a prolonged period of time. Here’s what parents can do to help their children cope during this challenging time — and avoid long-term negative outcomes:

Listen to Your Children

The easiest way to find out how your child is feeling about the pandemic is simply to ask them. Depending on their age, they may have a difficult time articulating their feelings, so be prepared to ask carefully targeted questions and to be patient. Before opening up a conversation with your child, ensure that you’re emotionally prepared to offer comfort and understanding; if you’re nervous or distracted, your child will likely be able to sense it.

Be Aware of the Media Your Child Is Consuming

You don’t want to keep your child completely in the dark about the pandemic, as that’s likely to result in even more confusion, but there’s no need for your child to consume COVID-19 news 24/7. Avoid listening to talk radio stations while your child is in the car with you, and wait until they’ve gone to sleep to tune into the evening news. Try to ensure that you’ve approved any pandemic-related news that reaches your child.

Implement and Maintain Comforting Routines

Without school and extracurricular activities — and with increased access to screens — it’s easy for your child’s schedule to get a bit scrambled. But if they’re staying up past their bedtime, sleeping late into the morning or afternoon, and/or neglecting exercise or outside time, that’s a recipe for bad moods. Try to maintain structure in your day as much as possible; wake up your child around the same time each day, maintain regular mealtimes, and try to set aside chunks of time each day for reading, exercise, and other activities that promote healthy development.

Look to Outside Help

Few people with school-aged children have lived through a global crisis on the scale of the current pandemic. It’s completely understandable if you’re having a hard time both managing your own emotions and tending to your child’s. Fortunately, Kids’ Health is here to help. As a premier pediatric practice in Beverly, Massachusetts, we’re dedicated to helping your child reach their best not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health during the pandemic, reach out to us. We’re available on the phone and in person, and we follow strict protocols to ensure a safe and clean environment in our office....