"You don"t need a pediatrician to tell you that kids today are feeling stressed. We"re all feeling it, and kids are no exception. They could really use a boost right now, even if it"s just 10 minutes of your undivided attention.
In our clinic, we are seeing unbelievable numbers of kids suffering from what we"re calling the unholy trinity of the pandemic: depression, anxiety and eating disorders. And that"s just now. The unrelenting stress and disruption of the pandemic, like other adverse childhood experiences, could have the potential to shape a child"s physical and mental health for a lifetime.
But grownups, we can help, and we really need to. This is not just business as usual. I know that we"re busy and stressed, too, but right now, as always, we all need to focus on connecting with our kids. Connection, structure and positive experiences provide a buffer against stressful times, and spending time together is good for all of us.
How to bolster your kids
Connection, connection, connection that"s what a lot of kids are missing these days as their school routines, home routines and relationships have been turned upside down. We can help by getting a little more involved in their day, and by allowing them to get a little more involved in ours. For example:
Maintain some routines
The pandemic has pointed out the value of traditions, routines and schedules. Kids feel unsafe in general right now, and having some routines they can count on gives them a sense of security and normalcy, even when everything else feels like it"s swirling out of control. Maintaining the same bedtime routine, or scheduling a regular family meal, brings consistency and comfort amid the chaos.
Don"t leave them to their own devices
Smartphones, tablets and other devices enhance our lives and our children"s learning. "But when used inappropriately or without thought," according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "media can displace many important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family-time, outdoor-play, exercise, unplugged downtime and sleep." Once schoolwork is done, be very intentional about where and when devices are used. For entertainment, use them together to watch a show or to play games with each other, so at least there is a connection point. Healthychildren.org offers great advice on how to establish a healthy Family Media Plan."