How to keep your kids emotionally healthy during the ongoing pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Living through a pandemic has been especially difficult for children. Beyond the disruption to their lives, listening to adults squabble over mask-wearing and vaccinations can be very stressful for children.

Dr. Thomaseo Burton with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital said disruptions in sleep, appetite, and activities are a major sign your child is experiencing anxiety.

He said it’s important to have open conversations and check in with your child during this time.

“We want to make sure we are very open and honest with our kids about what our beliefs are, what our concerns are, and what are the safest things to do right now,” said Dr. Burton.

Dr. Burton is a pediatric psychologist at Le Bonheur.

He said children will react differently to pandemic life.

While younger kids might adapt more easily, others could become stressed and have difficulty sleeping or lose their appetite.

“Really having full conversations with our kids about how they are doing and what’s going on and asking if there are things they are worried about,” said Dr. Burton.

Dr. Burton said children can also sense when their parents are stressed. He said this is one reason you should be open and share your own feelings with your kids.

“Not trying to hide things or bottle things up because even as adults if we are not expressing ourselves. We are holding those things inside. It has to go somewhere,” said Dr. Burton.

Dr. Burton also suggests regular discussions with your children about COVID-19, mask-wearing, and vaccinations. He said this is key to keeping them informed and safe.

“The best thing parents can do is be reassuring that we are taking the precautions, doing as much as we can to be safe,” said Dr. Burton.

Dr. Burton said you might want to go to your pediatrician or mental health provider if your child has recurring physical issues like stomach aches or if they have a difficult time going to school, doing homework, or playing with their friends.