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Anxiety During a Pandemic: One Thing Parents Must Understand

Did you know anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in children and adolescents?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been an increase in doctor's visits for children dealing with mental health issues.

One of the best things you can do to help your child cope with the pandemic's uncertainty is to stay calm and listen. Reassure them that it's OK to be scared, and you're doing everything you can to keep them safe. 

Even though the world may not be picture-perfect, do what you can to eliminate stress and create a calm home environment. When it comes to addressing your child's fears, listen to their concerns, but allow them to develop possible solutions to handle a situation that may come up.

For example, they may be worried about what to do if a friend wants to hug them at school or share their food during lunch. If they are having trouble figuring out what to do, help them brainstorm ways they can respond.  

Remind them that all the things they have been doing for the past few months — washing their hands, social distancing and wearing masks — will protect them.

When addressing anxieties about missing out on important events like birthday celebrations and graduations, be empathetic and develop alternative ways to celebrate if there is a cancellation.

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance on how to support children's emotional needs during the pandemic.

Here are more things you can do to help your child cope with anxiety.

Practice ways to stay safe.

Remind your kids what they should do to stay safe in school. Go over several scenarios like what to do when using a computer or while eating lunch.

Be sure to remind them how to wear a mask properly.

Start — or stick — to a routine.

If your child hasn't got back on a regular sleep schedule, now is the time to do so. Anxiety can get worse if they're not getting enough sleep.

Having a bedtime and morning routine is also essential. Your child's bedtime routine can include packing their backpack for the next day — remember to include hand sanitizer and extra masks.

In the morning, make sure your child is getting up on time and ready to start the day.

Need more help?

Willowbrooke Psychiatric Center offers mental health services for children age 5 and older. Services included free mental health screenings to connect you to resources and services your family needs. Mental health professionals who can offer continuing care are also embedded in many school systems throughout west Georgia.

Appointments are available at 770-812-3530. Visit WillowbrookePsychiatricCenter.org to learn more.

Behavioral Health Care, Tanner Medical Group

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