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8 strategies to help your children with anxiety and stress in the age of COVID-19

During these unprecedented times, we're all a little bit more stressed, frustrated, and on edge ,and our children are not immune to these feelings either. This is a big change for us all ,and our kids may be feeling increasing levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, especially those children who may be predisposed to these aforementioned symptoms.  Here are 8 strategies to help your children deal with their stress during this time.

1.Talking with your children
o Effectively communicating and informing your children may be the best way to help them deal with their anxiety and stress. Children, just like adults, are constantly trying to make sense of their world. Although you may want to shield your children from information so as not to upset them, if we don't talk with our kids about what is happening, they will only find information from other, less credible sources. Communicating accurate information about the virus and reasons for social distancing in an age-appropriate manner is important. For example, saying: "Yes, things are going to be a bit different for a little while. You're not likely to get hurt, but we're doing this to keep people like grandma and grandpa safe. As long as we continue to practice good hygiene and maintain our distance from others, we, can all be safe.”

2. Watch your tone!
o Even though we may communicate to our kids that things are going to be ok, if we are showing that we are overly stressed and anxious ourselves, they won't believe us. Kids are smart, they pick up on our cues and learn from our modeled behaviors. So, if your tone or behaviors indicate fear, anxiety, or stress than, they will likely feel the same way.

3.Managing your own stress
o We’re all understandably a little bit more stressed and o,n edge, and as a result, we may have a shorter fuse during these times. Allow for some leeway for non-conventional behaviors from your children, they’re trying to figure this situation out too and gain a sense of what is normal. Also, try to check your own frustrations at the door before responding and unintentionally taking out your emotions on your kids.

4.Keeping a schedule
o We're all creatures of habit and children are no different. Continuing to maintain order in your, and your child's life, is paramount in maintaining a sense of normalcy and staving off stress, anxiety, and depression. Having said that, maintaining a schedule for your young one is important. This isn't summer vacation. Keeping a regimented schedule filled with schoolwork, chores, family time and fu,n activities can make us feel like things aren’t as different as before and that we are still in control.

5.Having fun
oMake sure to enjoy yourself and have fun! In our crazy busy lives, we rarely get an opportunity to stop and smell the roses and have some fun. This is that opportunity! Use this time to connect more with your kids. Have a game night or go play outside. Quarantine doesn't have to mean Boring-tine!

6.Getting outside
o As adults, we can take for granted our independence and ability to get away from things. Kids are often captive to whatever environment they're placed in. Since there is no more school, they are stuck in one place morning, noon and night. It's important to encourage them to change their scenery daily. This means getting outside, going for walks, and being active.

7. Get Social
o School isn't just a place of books, learning, and work, it's also a place where children learn the ins and outs of effective socialization. Cooperation, collaboration, and competition are used and practiced daily in these environments. With most schools closed at this point, it's a good idea to foster a variety avenues to increase their socialization. Most kids already play with peers through online gaming or other online social channels. While the amount of time spent with this medium should be monitored and not excessive, it should also not be overly restricted during this time.

8. Reaching out for help
o If you find that you or your child are struggling during this time, like many others, it's ok to reach out for help. Reach out to family, friends, or colleagues for support or join a support group. Also, reaching out to a therapist can be a good way to increase coping skills and strategies for dealing with difficulties during this time. Strategic Psychological Services has clinicians available via telehealth video conferencing. 

If you feel the need, call for an appointment today at 401-785-0040.

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