Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, children had to cope with a lot of change and unpredictability in their lives. Schools were often closed or virtual, sports and activities were canceled, and even socialization was limited.
Courtney H. Chellew, DO, child and adolescent psychiatrist with Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG)–Muhlenberg, says it’s not surprising that many children are now dealing with feelings of stress and anxiety. “It’s been a tough time for kids. I think all of us benefit from having a regular routine and predictability in our lives, and COVID-19 has been really challenging for children because it’s taken away some of that,” she says.
Recognizing stress and anxiety in children
According to Chellew, stress and anxiety can sometimes be difficult to recognize in children. However, she says there are some red flags that parents may want to be aware of if they think their children are dealing with feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Isolation – spending more time alone or withdrawing from friends and family
- Lack of enthusiasm – no longer showing interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Low energy – sleeping more than usual and not being as active as normal
- Behavior changes – being easily upset or frustrated and crying more
- Changes in eating – refusing to eat or not eating as much as usual
What parents can do to help
Chellew says that in some cases, coping with stress and anxiety can be a very individual process. “Some people like to paint, some people may like to exercise – and children are no different. Finding a way to cope with stress can be a process of trial and error,” she says.