Parents’ Guide to Managing Stress While Remote Learning
Many parents and caregivers are balancing work and remote learning with their children from home. While staying home helps slow the spread of COVID-19, it may also be stressful for both the child and caregiver. Jenna Mendelson, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist with LeBauer HealthCare, and member of Cone Health Medical Group, provides strategies to help manage the stress of this new normal during COVID-19.
How Do I Reduce or Prevent Stress for My Family?
COVID-19 has put many parents in the difficult situation of having to balance working from home while also managing their children’s remote learning. To reduce or prevent extra stress, look for ways to establish boundaries.
- Create a daily routine. It doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, but make sure you establish regular times to eat, work and relax.
- Set aside time for quality time with your kids. We’re around our families more often these days, but for many of us, the quality of our time together has gone down. Make sure to set aside time just to enjoy each other’s company.
How Do I Help My Child Manage Stress?
When you see your child is stressed, be an active listener. Rather than waiting for your child to reach out to you, reach out to them. Reassure them that it’s normal to feel stressed, and tell them that you’re there to support them.
If your child doesn’t want to talk after you reach out, that’s OK – give them space. By reaching out to them, you’ve shown them you’re there for them when they’re ready.
When your child comes to you with concerns, start with just listening. As parents, it’s natural to want to comfort your child by telling them everything is OK. But in this situation, that can inadvertently invalidate your child’s feelings.
After listening to your child’s concerns, see if there’s something they can do today to help them feel better. We can’t make the pandemic go away, but if there is something small they can change or do to make them feel better right now, that could provide them some relief.
When Should I Seek Help for Myself or My Child?
While a certain amount of stress is normal, there are some symptoms that could be a sign you or your child may benefit from further treatment.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in Adults and Children
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in appetite that impact weight, including weight gain or weight loss
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Trouble focusing
- Feeling sad or tearful more frequently
- Increased irritability
- Excessive worry and difficulty relaxing
- Lack of energy and persistent fatigue
While children may experience any of the above symptoms, they may also show unique symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in Children
- Changes in grades, or difficulty in a school subject that used to be easy for them
- Physical symptoms, like stomachache, without another known cause
- Difficulty focusing
- Avoiding activities they used to enjoy
What Options for Professional Help Are Available for Me and My Child?
If you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you would simply benefit from talking to someone, many behavioral health care providers are offering telehealth visits that you can attend from the safety of your own home. To get started, contact your primary care provider.
Need to find a primary care provider? Click here.
>> Learn more about virtual care options available during COVID-19.
>> Learn about behavioral health services available at Cone Health for you and your family.