During Covid-19 self-quarantine, constant change has become our new normal. Constant change is very stressful for children their parents.
During periods of prolonged stress, it is important to care for our minds and bodies. This is especially important for our children and teens who have lost routine, supportive peers, teachers, extra-curriculars, and long-awaited summer plans.
Are your children suffering from increased stress? Watch for these signs:
- Lack of enjoyment or participation in activities that they usually enjoy –
- Increased complaints of “not feeling good.” Children and teens can lack the vocabulary to use when talking about how they feel. Since stress can manifest as physical symptoms, it’s tricky to separate out illness from stress. Be alert to excessive complaints that are generalized as “not feeling good.”
- Treatment of others – Siblings don’t always get along (THAT would be abnormal!). However, if your child or teen is consistently harsh or short with others, they could very likely be telling you they’re experiencing stress.
Support the development of stress management skills in children and teens.
- Get active – let them pick the activity, a bike ride, a hike, walk the dog, go for a run, hop on a paddle board. Changing your scenery and increasing your heart rate helps produce mood uplifting hormones for all ages.
- Go for a drive – with our social distancing mandate, a drive with your child or teen can provide a great space for communication with no agenda. Often the best conversations I’ve had with my kids have been in the car. To add fun, perhaps create a joint playlist and sing like rock stars! Sometimes the best conversations can happen after we have shared a fun experience.
- Start a project together – Ideas can include planting and caring for seeds, painting rocks, working on a puzzle, or taking up knitting. Have your child or teen choose the project THEY are most interested in and set a routine around this.
- Watering the plants at a certain time every day
- Working on a puzzle/knitting project 1-2 times per week. Projects can provide opportunities for consistency, predictability, mastery of a new skill, and shared positive experiences.
No matter what you choose, be consistent, and keep it FUN! This will build a trusting relationship and trust with your child or teen while modeling healthy ways to cope with inevitable stress.