California's official stay at home order went into effect in March, almost three months ago. Only recently have parts of the state begun opening up for more regular day-to-day activity, which means social distancing measures will still continue for most of us.
Kids from toddlers to teens need structure! The school year brought some of that for families and children, but what are kids to do when summer comes and they are stuck at home with no schedule?
Teens generally have the most difficult time social distancing from friends due to being in the particular stage of life where friendships have become one of their biggest priorities. The Weill Cornell School of Medicine speaks to how we can support them during a potentially frustrating and confusing summer.
Posted by: Weill Cornell Psychiatry
Supporting Children’s Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In this time of uncertainty, the structure of a daily routine provides predictability, said Dr. Justin Mohatt, vice chair for child and adolescent psychiatry, vice chair for faculty practice of the Department of Psychiatry, and an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine.
“Your teenager needs structure, your 7-year-old needs it, and so does your 2-year-old,” he said, adding that predictability helps to reduce anxiety as well as potential conflicts between parents and their kids. Parents should create a schedule that includes regular wake-up and bedtimes, mealtimes, and homeschooling hours, in addition to opportunities for fun and safe socializing such as group chats, virtual house parties, and going for walks or bike rides with a friend at a safe 6-foot distance.
Understanding the concept of social distancing while out in public is age-dependent. Teens, for example, seem to have the most difficulty with social distancing, which makes perfect developmental sense, said Dr. Mohatt, who is also an assistant attending psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “They’re supposed to be forming social relationships outside of the family, so they’re naturally driven to see their friends,” he said.
Another reason teens might not believe social distancing is necessary is that early data indicates they don’t have as high a risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 as adults. They may need to hear about the details of the pandemic to better understand why social distancing is necessary. Parents can reinforce to teens that even if they're not personally at high risk of serious health consequences, they can still transmit SARS-CoV-2 to older adults who have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill, such as their grandparents or other loved ones, Dr. Mohatt said...
The good news is that while researchers don’t yet have data on how social distancing and the pandemic is affecting children’s mental health, “we do have a lot of evidence showing that in the face of traumatic events, most kids do really well,” Dr. Mohatt said. “They’re resilient and adaptive.” While some children who have experienced traumatic events have short-term problems with anxiety or depression, most don’t have lasting psychological effects, he said.
Parents can help by looking after their own mental health. Young children are especially prone to picking up on their parents’ moods, especially anxiety, so it is just as important for parents to maintain structure, routine, social connections and healthy habits. In caring for themselves in this way, they can care for their children and simultaneously model the behaviors they expect of them.
Our teens and young adults are a huge part of Victor. We are passionate about helping them grow successfully into adulthood, find independence and new beginnings. These uncertain times are challenging, but we welcome the opportunity to find new ways of showing support and serving our clients.
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