Tips for relieving COVID pandemic-related stress in children, parents

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – As the COVID pandemic wears on, young children and teenagers are dealing with their own anxiety and stress.

Dr. Sarah Kiperman is a licensed psychologist at Beaumont Center for Human Development. The center evaluates and treats children with developmental or learning disabilities.

She said lately children and their parents have been dealing with a lot more than they typically would.

“We have this, this added burden of having to live through a pandemic and having to live through a lot of stressful events that have happened in Michigan recently,” said Kiperman. “I think at this point, now a lot of kids are expecting chaos which is a really unfortunate state to be in.”

During the pandemic her center has seen an uptick in referrals as young as elementary school-aged children.

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“We’re seeing a lot of hopelessness and we see depression, anxiety, which looks like having worry thoughts, which looks like fixating on what’s not going well and not meeting the demands,” Kiperman said.

School was once a routine children could depend on but whether it’s due to school threats or a surge in COVID cases, the back and forth from virtual to in-person learning could be stressing a child out even more. Kiperman suggest creating a routine at home.

“When things feel more predictable, we know what to expect and that in itself alleviates things like anxiety or depression. So when we think of what a healthy routine looks like, during the day, it can involve getting dressed instead of staying in pjs all day,” Kiperman said.

Due to the pandemic, many, including kids, are seeing a compromised version of themselves and may have trouble giving 100%.

“Create behavioral situations for our kids where they can meet the demand at hand, even if that’s at rocking out the Scrabble game, or even if it’s you know, getting them involved in a hobby that they can really try they’re all at or saying commit to one course subjects that you are going to go above and beyond in,” Kiperman said.

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Her biggest advice to any parent is to be mindful of the example you set for your children.

“When kids see parents in control of their emotions and handling stressful situations, kids then see what they can rise to the challenge to do and to take on themselves,” Kiperman said.

She said it’s important for parents to acknowledge the let downs and frustrations the pandemic creates but also show yourself recovering from those moments. Kiperman recommended not fixating on the negative thoughts and challenging yourself to reframe your thoughts with what you’re grateful for or other positive thoughts.

Read: Get the help you need: Where to find mental health services in Southeast Michigan

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