Empowering Kids and Teens During Pandemic Can Help Their Mental Health
Madison, Wisconsin - Aside from the physical toll of COVID-19, perhaps the most debilitating consequence of the pandemic is the prevailing sense of uncertainty we all feel. For children and teens, whose academic and social lives continue to be disrupted, this ambiguity can be particularly difficult, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression and powerlessness.
UW Health psychologists say there are things all parents and adults can do that may help kids manage those feelings and even provide them with the skills they need to be more resilient long after this current crisis is over.
One helpful thing we can do for our kids during the pandemic is to empower them to feel a greater sense of control,” said Jason Horowitz, a child and adolescent psychologist at UW Health. “Feeling powerless to solve our problems can contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety, so encouraging kids to take control over even some small part of this crisis, and how they view it, can go a long way toward safeguarding their mental health.”
Things parents and adults can do to help ease anxiety in children include:
- Encourage kids to do projects (e.g. thank you signs for frontline workers) that give them a sense of accomplishment.
- Teach kids that mask-wearing and physical distancing is a public health matter, and that their efforts to bend the curve are acts of great kindness and compassion.
- Speak to kids about the important role of community, and that their actions not only keep us and our loved ones safe, but also help protect the most vulnerable people in our communities.
- Always model good behavior. Remember that kids are looking to the adults in their lives for cues on how they should respond in stressful situations.
Horowitz also says that parents should always validate their kids’ emotions by being direct and honest with them (in an age-appropriate way) and letting them know that every question they might have about the pandemic is a valid one.
Video: How to Help Teens
Date Published: 07/31/2020