The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on our daily lives. Schools have closed while most businesses have shut down albeit partially. Relevant health agencies have taken strict measures in a bid to flatten the curve and slow down infection rates.
We are now getting used to terms such as quarantine, social distancing, isolation, and face masks, among others. Out of these, social distancing has arguably the highest success rate against Coronavirus.
However, humans are social beings, meaning social distancing measures can sometimes lead to anxiety and depression. Enforcing social distancing tactics on children can have a detrimental effect on their mental health.
Overcoming social distancing anxiety can be a huge challenge for kids and young adults, and their ability to respond to these stressful situations depends on their age, temperament, developmental level, exposure to media, and parental reactions.
Here are a few signs to watch out for in order to help your child cope with anxiety and depression during this global crisis.
Signs to watch
Signs that your child is struggling with the effects of COVID-19 social distancing measures include:
- Bad sleep patterns
- Increased irritability
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Increased stomachaches and headaches
- Increased tearfulness
- Unexplained sadness or worry
- Social withdrawal
- Poor focus and difficulties with attention
- Excess fear about the safety of family members
Do not be surprised to see your child display some of these symptoms, particularly during this time of national concern. Most of these symptoms should subside after a day or two. However, should they occur in groups or continue throughout the week, then you should respond by seeking help from a mental health professional immediately.
Typically, younger children or kids with developmental problems do not know how to express their feelings. With this in mind, you should pay close attention to their behaviours and note any major changes. This can go a long way to help arrest any anxiety and depression-related issues before they get out of hand.
There are several ways you can help your child cope with social distancing anxiety. Some of the most effective ways include:
- Using smart devices and technology to connect with family and friends virtually
- Taking deep, calculated breaths throughout the day to ease anxiety
- Practicing muscle relaxation techniques
- Restricting social media use to avoid access to fake and unverified news
- Working out and staying physically active throughout the day
- Participating in preferred activities
While social distancing has been successful in curbing the spread of the virus, it has also had a major impact on the social connections our children have. Kids assume social distancing is all about physical distancing and cutting ties with friends.
To help your child maintain their connections, it is important to encourage them to engage with their friends using technology. This way, they will be able to keep in touch with their friends during stay-at-home orders without necessarily having to meet physically.
In case you need further help, do not hesitate to contact your nearest healthcare provider.