By Jessica Stuart-Shor, LMHC
At a time like this most children will experience anxiety and need extra support. Children who were already coping with behavioral issues and their parents may feel overwhelmed. The structures these children and parents rely on throughout their week, like school, have either drastically changed, or become entirely unavailable. This can even more stress in an already stressed household especially if parents are also trying to work from home. Below are some suggestions from our behavioral health team that families may find useful.
- Create structure as best as possible. When it comes to school work, continue to follow the recommendations on their IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) if you’re child has one. If your child is accustomed to taking sensory breaks during their school day, create a designated space in your home, with whatever items they usually use.
- Children with ADHD that is managed with medication during the school week should speak to their prescribing physician about how best to continue with their medication. If it feels appropriate for your family and child cutting their dose back might be an option.
- Take note of your child’s triggers. If they have been in therapy, most likely the triggers to anxiety, aggressive behaviors, and emotional outbursts that have already been identified will remain the same. If you notice an increase in specific behaviors and emotions take a moment to reflect on where they are coming in contact with triggers, and how best to help them.
- Reach out to your child’s healthcare providers: their therapists, teachers and physicians. Ask if tele-health is available in their office and seek guidance on continuing to get the support your family needs.
- Assign chores and responsibilities. Children who help around the house feel a sense of purpose and it builds confidence.
- Exercise. While our gyms and organized sports are canceled try to exercise when possible even if it means doing 10 minutes of family yoga, playing catch in the backyard or walking outside.
- Take good care of yourself. Our children are watching. Modeling good coping skills and effective communication helps children remain calm and makes a lasting impression on how they handle unexpected situations in the future.
- Children need to play. Play outside, play board games, read aloud, enjoy your time as a family. Play drastically decreases anxiety and helps children process traumatic and scary events. Children will not necessarily remember their day-to-day schedule or the projects they complete but they will remember how they felt.
These are just suggestions. You as a family should try different things and figure out what works best for you and what feels possible. As always, we here at MVPediatrics are here to support your family. Call us.