Parenting In a Pandemic: Mental Wellbeing

If you’re feeling anxious, stressed or depressed, your kids are acting out and your family has a serious case of cabin fever, you’re not alone.

Healthcare providers are seeing an increase in mental health problems among adults and kids alike—even infants and toddlers—as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Know the Signs

Being cooped up at home with no childcare, limited social interaction, job pressures, financial worries or anxiety about your family’s health takes a toll. Talk with your family’s healthcare providers about any mental and emotional health concerns you have—either for you or your child—during the pandemic.

For adults, this kind of stress can cause:

  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Feeling overwhelmed, impatient and short of temper
  • Increased tobacco, alcohol or drug use
  • Worsening chronic health problems or mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, etc.

Infants, toddlers or preschoolers may experience:

  • Fussiness, irritability, aggression and tantrums
  • Regression, such as bedwetting if already toilet trained
  • Night-waking
  • Feeding issues, including frequent spit-ups or frantic nippling among babies, constipation, loose stools and stomach aches
  • Increased separation anxiety and clinginess

Signs your older child may need help.

As basic as they seem, these strategies can help you and your kids stay mentally and emotionally healthy in stressful times:

1. Eat healthy meals and snacks. Takeout and fast-food are convenient, but not the best for your body and mind. Make those the exception, not the rule. Trouble affording food? Call the United Way at 211 for help.

2. Get your Zzz’s. You need 7-9 hours and your baby or toddler needs up to 16 or 17 hours of sleep every day. Stress can mess with sleep. Try these sleep strategies for adults, babies, and kids and teens.

3. Exercise. Heart-pumping movement helps the body and mind. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of brisk daily walking or any exercise you favor. Get your kids outside and running around, dancing indoors or doing other physical activities.

4. Take a break from bad news. All the negative, worrisome news about the pandemic raises anxiety levels. Try limiting scrolling of news sites and social media to just 30 minutes a day.

5. Talk it out. Ask your older kids how they feel about the pandemic and its restrictions. Acknowledge frustrations and offer comfort when young children act out. Share your own frustrations by talking often with your partner; call or virtually chat regularly with extended family and friends to stay connected!

More tips for kids and families:

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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