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Ways to support your kids emotionally in the pandemic



Social isolation is hard for us all, but especially for teens

kids, emotional support, parents, family, teens

While some kids are looking forward to getting back together with school friends in the fall, others have been hit with the decisions of schools to persist with remote learning. Another semester of isolation may feel discouraging and anxiety-provoking.

Some teenagers have taken well to videoconferencing as a way to maintain contact with friends, while others gravitate toward gaming online. But those who do not enjoy online group activities may be feeling lonely. Psychologist Courtney Whitehead said she's seen an increase in teens who are sleeping long hours, reporting decreased appetite, and spending excessive amounts of time holed up in their rooms.

Pediatrician Ann Contrucci finds teens with tendencies toward mild anxiety have found those symptoms worsened under the pandemic, as they watch frightening news reports, observe their parents under stress, and have their own routines disrupted. In more extreme cases, when there's a mental health emergency, teens often have trouble getting treatment at ER's, where patients with COVID-19 are overwhelming medical resources.

Be creative in organizing activities. However, parents can play a role in helping their kids adapt as the school year begins. Find creative ways of organizing one-on-one social contact with a friend, outdoors and socially distanced.

Develop a routine. It's also helpful to encourage your teen to return to the daily routine followed during the school year, easing the transition into at-home learning.

Encourage a good night’s sleep. Whitehead suggested keeping an eye on sleep patterns, making sure kids are going to bed early enough to get a solid night's sleep, not staying up gaming into the wee hours. At the same time, don't let them sleep too long, as too much sleep can make a tendency toward depression even worse.

Make family time fun time. Organize family time that gives everyone a break from computers and headlines, a reminder that there's life apart from the pandemic.

Maintain your own personal good health. Most important, said both Contrucci and Whitehead, parents should pay attention to their own mental health. While pandemic stressors may distract us from self-care, we can be most helpful to our children if we maintain our own sanity and equanimity. If we give in to panic or depression, we can hardly expect them to flourish, but as we model ways of coping with stress, they can learn to do the same.




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