Children and teens may face a variety of stressors as they navigate everyday life. During this unique time of COVID-19, the nature of the stressors are different, and it becomes even more important for youth to strengthen their coping and stress management skills. Some activities that are usually used as coping strategies are not available right now, such as spending time with friends or playing on a sports team.
How can I reduce stress levels for my children?
Parents and caregivers can help their children manage stress by encouraging healthy behaviors, such as getting proper sleep, exercising daily and eating balanced, nutritious meals. Parents can also encourage their children to engage in calming behaviors, such as listening to quiet music, journaling or drawing.
Daily physical activity and time outdoors in the fresh air is another healthy behavior for parents and children to experience together. Outdoor time may be as simple as taking a walk as a family or walking the dog. Quality time with pets can be particularly calming for kids.
Does more screen time mean more stress?
Kids can feel isolated during this time since they are not seeing their friends at school, and parents may be leery about participating in playdates or visiting playgrounds. Parents can get creative and find ways to connect their kids with friends during this time. Although we still need to be aware of avoiding excessive screen time, it can be fun for kids to talk to their friends through applications such as Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp, with parental monitoring. Netflix Party allows multiple users to synchronize their videos for a virtual movie night, and Pogo is a platform used for a virtual game night. Some kids are getting together virtually to do their homework or classwork with each other. It can be comforting and fun for kids to see each other through virtual mediums.
What should I do if I’m concerned about my child?
Parents should monitor their child’s stress level to determine if the stress is having a negative impact on behaviors, thoughts or feelings. If parents are concerned that their child seems depressed or overly anxious, they can reach out to a local mental health specialist.
UF Health Psychiatry is currently offering online virtual visit appointments. Call 904-383-1038 to make an appointment or visit UFHealthJax.org/psychiatry to learn more about our services.