Throughout the past year, the coronavirus has changed and disrupted the daily lives of children.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the rise of fire danger in the Reno and Lake Tahoe region, and the return of in-person schooling, many children may find themselves struggling with feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear.
There are resources throughout Reno and on the Internet that you can use to support your family and children. Below are a few tips you can use to support your child’s mental health:
- Learn the signs and symptoms of anxiety
- General symptoms of anxiety may appear as fear or worry but can also come across as anger or irritability. Physical symptoms can include trouble sleeping, headaches, fatigue, and stomachaches. For more information visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/depression.html
- Help kids understand what is going on but also be mindful of what they are seeing on TV and reading online
- Look for shows, books, and activities that can educate kids about the pandemic and fires. This way they can begin to understand how to put in perspective that what happens in the world may or may not immediately affect them. In Reno, you can seek help from The Children’s Cabinet.
- Create a positive home environment
- With the pandemic and fires making it unsafe to spend time elsewhere, it is important to create a home environment that is safe, welcoming, and comforting for children. Parents set the tone in the household. Expressing fear or worry can affect your child. Although it can be challenging, try to stay positive when communicating with your children. Learn how to do so: https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/creating-positive-home-environment-and-other-tips-uncertain-times
- Encourage physical activity and outdoor play
- Playing outdoors or engaging in physical activity can help reduce stress and anxiety for kids and adults alike. Fresh air and movement can relax the brain, improve focus, and act as a distraction for the constant disruptions to daily life. The Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows provides children with many opportunities for physical activity and social connection.
- Support a nutritious diet
- Adequate nutrition is crucial for energy focus, and growth. Make sure your child is getting enough food, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and water throughout the day. The Food Bank of Northern Nevada provides food to families in need.
- Maintain structure
- With so much going on in our world today, it is important that children feel some sense of routine and have some sort of control. This can be as simple as having set meal times, set play times, or set homework times during the day. Volunteers of Communities in Schools may offer some ideas that can help.
- Reach out to local organizations when necessary
- Finally, if your child’s mental health seems to be interfering with his or her daily activities, school, and sleep, it is a good idea to reach out to his or her doctor or to local organizations that support children such as the Community Health Alliance.
This article was written by Kate Rye, a Spanish and Psychology major in her senior year at the University of Nevada, Reno.