KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The ongoing pandemic has added stress to our daily lives. If you feel overwhelmed, imagine being a child who’s beginning a new school year with so much uncertainty.
Forget the typical butterflies of a new school year. A local pediatrician says it can be far worse for students during this pandemic which is why he’s providing timely advice to help kids cope.
There is nothing normal about the “new normal” when it comes to school. Some students are learning from home while others will have at least some in person classes. A school year in flux because of the pandemic can undermine a child’s mental well-being.
“There’s a huge uncertainty involved with this with is COVID going to make me sick is one or is my school going to shut down or is the classes, are they going to be changing,” Dr. Jeffery Kile of PAK Pediatrics said.
Kile says parents need to keep a keen eye for any abrupt changes in their child’s behavior which could indicate symptoms of depression or anxiety.
“They can present themselves in a multitude of different ways from being jittery to acting out to becoming even more withdrawn,” Dr. Kile said.
Dr. Kile says just as it’s important for adults to stay on a routine, so too is it for children even if they are learning from home.
“Having a routine that every day especially kids that are virtual school every day that they sort of have a routine that they’re getting up at the same time, going to bed at the same time, getting out and doing some physical activity,” Dr. Kile said.
Dr. Kile says it’s always important to talk with your child and let them know they’re being heard. The pandemic means it’s that much more vital to really check-in with them on a daily basis.
“COVID is going to be on the child’s mind and it’s important that parents have an open line of communication to know that they can, the children can come to them whenever they need it to sort of discuss things and be open and frank about the issues involved like be concrete. Yes, we don’t know what’s going to happen with school and we understand,” Dr. Kile said.
And it’s more than just the stress of academics during COVID that can take a toll. The loss of socialization can be a big burden. Dr. Kile recommends virtual play dates for young kids.
For older teens, activities like going for a walk, a bike ride or a hike can be very beneficial, as long as they’re socially distanced and wearing a mask.