How to Help Children Cope with Stress, Anxiety: Advice for Parents and Caregivers
(SPRINGFIELD, DECATUR, LITCHFIELD, SHELBYVILLE, O’FALLON, EFFINGHAM, BREESE, GREENVILLE, HIGHLAND, IL) – As the United States enters the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, children are facing additional stress related to back-to-school, fall sports, or lack thereof, and many new routines. Managing the stress and anxiety of so much change looks different for each child within each family.
The HSHS Illinois hospitals including HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield; HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur; HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield; HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital in Shelbyville; HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham; HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville, and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospitals in Breese and Highland want to offer advice for parents and caregivers in navigating stress and anxiety in children.
Dr. Guy Venuti, HSHS Medical Group pediatrician, emphasizes the importance of making sure children are appropriately handling stress.
“Kids may not be capable of expressing their feelings or knowing the right words to describe how they’re feeling, so it’s really important to get to their level and ask questions they will know how to answer,” he says.
Examples of those questions include, “Tell me what was good and what was bad about your day today,” and “What kinds of things are you worried about right now?”
The American Psychological Association (APA) offers the following tips to recognize if children may be experiencing stress or anxiety:
Parents can actively help kids and adolescents manage stress by:
o Say ‘and’ instead of ‘but’
o Say ‘could’ instead of ‘should’
o Say ‘aren’t going to’ instead of ‘can’t’
o Say ‘sometimes’ instead of ‘never’ or ‘always’
Call your child’s or adolescent’s health care provider if stress begins to interfere with his or her daily activities for several days in a row.
Find additional helpful information about kids and stress by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Helping Children Cope webpage at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/for-parents.html.