Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for people of all ages. But for kids and teens, it’s even more difficult. Growing up is hard enough without the added uncertainty of the pandemic.
Remote schooling, being unable to see their friends in person, sports and activities being canceled, and missing important milestones are just a few ways kids and teens are being affected. This has caused some to feel depressed, anxious or fearful about the future.
Kids and teens don’t always verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Watch for these signs that can indicate a change in mental health: mood swings, withdrawing from friends or favorite activities, disturbed sleep, weight loss or gain, severe risk taking or substance abuse.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help kids and teens cope with and manage the mental health effects of COVID-19:
- Maintain a normal routine – Kids and teens thrive on routine. Getting up and going to bed at the same time, getting dressed every morning, eating regular meals and staying physically active will help them feel a sense of control over their lives.
- Talk, listen and encourage expression – Especially as kids get older, they tend to bottle up their feelings. Take time each day to ask them how they’re feeling to give them an opportunity to open up. Being listened to and heard is sometimes enough to feel better about a situation.
- Be honest and provide accurate information – Parents sometimes shy away from telling their kids about scary things. But not knowing can cause more fear and anxiety. Knowledge is power – give your kids and teens age-appropriate facts to help them feel secure and safe.
- Teach simple steps to stay healthy – Especially for younger kids, giving them an active role in their own care may help them feel better about the situation. This can be as simple as making sure they understand the importance of washing their hands, wearing a mask in public and keeping frequently touched surfaces clean.
- Give reassurance about their safety – Although none of us know when things will get back to normal, you can let them know that you’ll provide updates as you get them and that, in the meantime, they are safe.
If you notice your child is having trouble coping, talk to a behavioral health professional. Linden Oaks Behavioral Health offers a 24-hour call line for people to get an assessment, referral or more information about behavioral health conditions. We also offer in-patient, outpatient and virtual counseling services. To learn more, request an assessment online or call 630-305-5027.
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