Children and pandemic stress: How to help your kids cope

File photo (Christina Rothermel-Branham via AP) (Christina Rothermel-Branham, Christina Rothermel-Branham)

Children returning to school are dealing with more stress than usual due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Are they attempting to avoid school or procrastinating? Some kids have physical complaints like stomachaches or headaches, but they only come when it is time for school.
  • Are their moods changing? Has your child’s behavior seemed irritable?
  • Do they sleep more than usual?
  • Have you noticed a change in eating patterns?

Experts suggest getting to root of the stress.

“Instead of saying something like, ‘Is school making you anxious? Or stressed?’ asking them, ‘how do you feel about school?’ or ‘how are you feeling about it?’ and really giving them a chance to guide the conversation,” said licensed therapist Jody Baumstein.

There are ways to help your child cope with stress.

You can work with your child on problem-solving, helping them to think critically about how to fix the situation.

And once they’re calm, it’s a good time to teach coping skills -- a way to manage stress.

“It’s really just about doing things that make them feel better,” Baumstein said. “So, for instance, it might be turning on some music and dancing or getting outside and running around and playing a game together. It doesn’t have to be serious.”

It’s also important to have your child keep up with healthy habits. Getting enough sleep, eating right, staying hydrated and keeping active can also help ease stress.