How parents can help their kids cope amid a pandemic

When to get professional help, teaching coping skills and finding hope
Allegations social workers failed children
Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 20:50:09-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Children are facing new emotions, challenges and constant change during the pandemic, leaving some parents looking for resources.

Licensed Psychologist Reena B. Patel said first and foremost it is important parents listen and validate how their child is feeling.

"Some of this is very new, they’ve never felt any of these emotions, even somatic, somatic are physical complaints: headaches, difficulty sleeping, stress beyond what they’ve felt before," she said.

She advises using words such as "I see, I hear and feel that you are..." showing a parent or guardian is an empathetic listener to the child.

"Unfortunately we’ve been seeing, myself as a private practitioner, an uptick in anxiety in children and depression," Patel said.

If your child is overwhelmed, Patel suggests having them write down what's bothering them, fold the paper up and put it away so they can focus on something else.

Patel said it's important to bring kids away from computer screens for school and play.

Patel suggests "board games, let it be hanging out with the family watching a show that they love. Make sure that they’re still doing that. Participating in virtual activities, visiting a virtual museum, something that they enjoy."

Patel said it is very important to watch for unusual behavior that spans days or weeks.

"Having a loss of appetite, not wanting to engage in things they typically want to engage in, disconnecting from you as a family unit or even friends. Those are red flags that I want you to seek out, talk to a Pediatrician, contact someone like me." She said.

She said a parent can help shape a child's mind, instilling hope and positivity during this time.

She said to ask children what they're looking forward to when the pandemic is over, and make plans you can focus on in a positive way.

Patel pointed above her desk to a sign that reads "You Matter" and said, "positive affirmations is a great tip because until you say something over and over you’re never going to believe it."

She also suggested keeping a gratitude journal.