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  • Writer's pictureJung Kim

Helping Children Cope

1. Watch for behavior changes in your child

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children.

  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting).

  • Excessive worry or sadness.

  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits.

  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens.

  • Poor school performance or avoiding school.

  • Difficulties with attention and concentration.

  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past.

  • Unexplained headaches or body pain.

  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

2. Ways to support your child

  • Talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.

  • Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn from you how to cope with stress.

  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.

  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.

  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

  • Spending time with your child in meaningful activities, reading together, exercising, playing board games.

3. Take care of your mental health

You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Get immediate help in a crisis

  • Call 911

  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat

  • The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116  TTY Instructions

  • Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255

Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health

  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889

  • Treatment Services Locator Website

  • Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers

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