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How to Cope With Your Child's Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 17:30:49-04

Social distancing because of COVID-19 is causing a lot stress in families, especially teens and children.

Today in our Rebound series, we are providing tips on how you and your kids can manage coronavirus-related stress.

Nikki Levine is a mother of three.

“I have three kids. We’re all passing in the hallway like ‘what time is your zoom call’, it’s just the new reality. It’s so bizarre. Most of the time we’re all in pajamas, it’s just goofy,” said Levine.

Like many families across South Florida, She and her kids are struggling with the quarantine.

“There’s been a night or two that I can think of in this whole six or seven weeks where I’ve just cried when I was walking. And I tell my kids too, you gotta honor your feelings. If you’re feeling sad or you’re feeling stressed, that’s ok”, said Levine.

According to the World Health Organization, children and teens respond to stress in different ways.

Hortensia Lozano, Program Manager for the Help Me Grow Program at the Jewish Community Services of South Florida, and Heather Winters, who works in the Children’s Behavioral Health Division, are hosting their first webinar to help parents and kids cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s an increase in stress level of children being at home,” said Lozano.

If you have young children, Lozano says change in behavior is a big sign of anxiety.

“If the child is normally a very calm child and now they’re more defiant, like running around more, or the child is defiant in the sense that their behavior is more active and now they’re not as active anymore, that can be an issue. If the child is more sad, clingy, their anxiety levels, they are just different, any change in the behavior of the child then something is stressing that child out,” said Lozano.

Winters says there are things parents can do to help.

“Rather than just asking ‘how are you feeling’, ask specific questions that will list responses based upon something they’ve observed in their child. We encourage to have those discussions throughout the daytime, as opposed to nighttime right before bed when children often show increase in anxiety,” said Winters.

For families struggling to stay motivated, Lozano emphasizes the importance of finding a “new normal routine”. A tip that has helped Nikki and her kids bounce back.

“I think the secret is in the schedule. Everybody needs to be moving at some point in the day. Everybody needs quiet time on their own, we were never meant to be all together, even with our loved ones,” said Levine.

The webinar on how to reduce your child’s stress during the pandemic is set for 6pm this Thursday. You can find more information on www.jcsfl.org