Helping little ones practice good mental health hygiene during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is causing stress for everyone – including kids. As News-4-Jax consumer investigator Lauren Verno explains -- a new study shows specific activities can help your child stay mentally healthy during these uncertain times.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused stress for everyone -- including kids.

Their whole world has been turned upside down.

Now, a new study shows there may be easy ways to help your little ones practice good mental health hygiene during the pandemic.

Scientists looked at 300 fifth- through eighth-grade students. They found those who participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program reported improved psychological functioning and less stress and anxiety compared to those who took a health education course.

The mindfulness program taught the children breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, mindfulness while eating, and more.

Experts say these types of activities are simple to do at home. For example, you can place a stuffed animal on a child’s stomach and ask them to rock it to sleep with gentle breaths.

The authors of the study said another activity is to have a child hold a common object behind their back and ask them to notice and describe how it feels.

Or when children feel sad, ask them “Where do you feel sad? In your eyes or your throat or your chest?”

These simple approaches encourage mindfulness and may lower stress.