Helping Children & Teens Cope during COVID-19
Written by: JOVANNA BORQUEZ, MS,
Covid-19 has brought upon our lives a serious of stressors that have not only affected our physical health but our mental health. Over the past months, we have seen an increase in the mental health need within the youth population. According to studies conducted in China, Italy and Spain, there has been high rise in children and teens presenting with feeling depressed, angry, bored and anxious (Zhou, Zhang, Wand, 2020; Orgiles, Morales, Delvecchio, 2020). But how can we help our children and teens cope with the adjustments of isolation?
Here are few things Staff from the Mayo Clinic and Nilu Rahman, M.S., C.C.L.S from Johns Hopkins Medicine have recommended:
1. Try to keep regular Routines
Our routines pre-Covid have been turned upside down. However, studies have shown that children thrive with well-rounded routines. Discuss with your child/teen and together create a schedule for relaxing or fun activities. Encouraging children to play outdoors and plan out social distancing play dates (zoom/facetime) will assist with decreasing the feelings of loneliness and isolation.
2. Be a model- Talk about feelings
Children and teens will pick up habits from the adults in their lives. Be mindful of modeling positive coping skills (i.e. take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well). Connect with your friends and family members via zoom/FaceTime. Also encourage and normalize talking about their feelings, and when they do, acknowledge and validate their feelings to emphasize that they are not alone.
3. Stay in touch with friends
It is important that children and teens continue to interact with friends. Encourage children and teens to set up zoom/facetime calls. This may require restructuring rules about screen time and phone use, just be sure to continue ensuring quality screen time by previewing your child’s games, using parental controls when needed and supervising your child’s online activities.
Monitoring children and teens mental health
Here are some recommendations for parents to be on a lookout for:
– Sleep changes (sleeping more or insomnia)
– Eating habits (changes in increase or decrease of appetite)
– Signs of self-harm behaviors (scratched on arms, wearing long sleeve sweaters on a hot day, etc.)
– Refusing to participate in activities that normally brought them joy.
Seek Professional help as needed.
Get immediate help in a crisis
– Call 911
– National Domestic Violence Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
– National Child Abuse Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
1. Zhou SJ, Zhang LG, Wang LL, et al. Prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of psychological health problems in Chinese adolescents during the outbreak of COVID-19. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2020 Jun;29(6):749-758.
2. Orgilés M, Morales A, Delvecchio E, et al. Immediate psychological effects of the COVID-19 quarantine in youth from Italy and Spain. PsyArXiv. Accessed September 22, 2020. https://psyarxiv.com/5bpfz/
3. The Mayo Clinic
4. Johns Hopkins Medicine
Written by: JOVANNA BORQUEZ, MS, LICENSED MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST #116480