Ongoing Support for Children and Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic
May 14th, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, everyone is experiencing challenges. These challenges may differ for each person, and it is important to monitor children’s mental health and emotional well-being. Each child’s mood and behaviors may vary from one day to the next, and this is normal. Regular check-ins about the ups and downs they are experiencing can be helpful. For example, many children may be enjoying extra time with their families, but may also be missing friends and loved ones.
Children often react to situations based on how the adults around them are responding. Modeling calm behaviors and flexibility may help children with their own coping by reducing their anxieties about the current situation. Children will benefit from parents/guardians listening to their concerns, correcting misinformation, and providing them with accurate, developmentally appropriate explanations.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) outlines strategies for talking to children about COVID-19 and supporting their mental health, in Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting from COVID-19. NASP recommends, “Parents and caregivers should contact a professional if children exhibit significant changes in behavior or any of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks.”
Concerning behaviors may include:
- Preschoolers — thumb sucking, bedwetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior, and withdrawal.
- Elementary school children — irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, school avoidance, poor concentration, and withdrawal from activities and friends.
- Adolescents—sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior, and poor concentration.
Parents/guardians concerned about your child’s mood or behavior, should email your child’s school teacher, school counselor or school psychologist for help. Contact information is available on each school’s website. Additional mental health resources can be accessed on the HCPSS Mental Health and Wellness webpage and the HCPSS Help website.