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Children and young people now need special support
The current situation can be particularly stressful for children and adolescents: the well-known everyday routine breaks down, they cannot meet with their friends, often have less outdoor exercise, and are constantly with their parents. In addition, there are many worries and fears of what the novel corona virus could mean for yourself or your friends and families.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a guide to managing stress during the corona crisis. In it, she also specifically addresses how best to support children and young people now. The first step is to recognize whether your child is currently particularly stressed.
How do you know if your child or teenager is under stress?
Not every child and teenager responds to stress in the same way. However, the CDC lists some common changes that can occur in many children and adolescents under special stress. These include:
- increased screaming or irritability in younger children,
- Return to behaviors that the child has already abandoned, such as wetting or bedwetting,
- excessive worry or sadness,
- unhealthy eating or sleeping habits,
- Irritability and "acting out" of behaviors in teenagers,
- poor or worsening school performance or refusal to learn,
- Difficulties with attention and concentration,
- Avoiding activities that the child or young person has enjoyed in the past,
- unexplained pain in the head or other parts of the body,
- Consumption of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs in adolescents.
You can do that
If you are currently regularly observing one or more of the abnormalities described above, the CDC lists specific ways you can help your child or teenager to survive the particular stressful situation well:
- Take the time to talk to your child about the outbreak of COVID-19. If your child has any questions, answer them as best as possible. Try to convey information about COVID-19 so that your child can understand it.
- Tell your child that they are safe. Let it know that it is okay if feelings such as excitement or fear arise. Share with your child how you deal with your own stress and feelings; this way your child can learn from you how to handle your own feelings well.
- Limit the time your child is facing news about the corona crisis, including social media. Children could misinterpret what they hear and startle about something they don't understand.
- Try to find a new daily routine. While the schools are closed, create a schedule of learning activities, relaxation time, and activities that your child will enjoy.
- Be a role model: take regular breaks, sleep enough, exercise enough and eat healthy. Keep in touch with your friends and family.
These tips are, of course, suitable for all families and also useful for prevention.
In our article you can read how you can take away the fear of the corona virus from children
"Corona panic: So children take away the fear of the corona virus".
Take care of yourself
The CDC emphasizes that children and young people are strongly influenced by their environment and role models. It is therefore important that you find a good way for yourself to deal with the current burdens caused by the corona pandemic. You can find ideas and suggestions in our articles:
- "Corona crisis: five tips for mental well-being" and
- "COVID-19: What is important now to stay healthy".
Get support if necessary
If you or your children need further support, do not hesitate to use them. The Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth has summarized all support offers for families on its website. There you will also find the telephone numbers for the free parent's telephone and for telephone advice for children, adolescents and parents. (kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Magistra Artium (M.A.) Katja Helbig
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Stress and Coping; (accessed on April 1, 2020), CDC
- Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth: Coronavirus - Current information on offers of help and support; (published on March 18, 2020), BMFSFJ