Stress levels and anxiety in kids are at an all-time high. What can parents do to help? We recently interviewed Dr. Hilary Bowers, founding director of Behavioral and Mental Health Services at Children's Primary Care Medical Group in San Diego. Here are the doctor’s tips to reduce stress when kids are in virtual school at home.
Treat school like school.
“One of the things I really try to encourage families to do is create an environment that feels like school as much as possible,” says Dr. Bowers. “Keep things quieter, and if you’ve got the space, don’t let kids attend school in their bedroom because that room has so many distractions. Keep non-school related devices far away and out of reach.”
Remember that when kids are in traditional school, they aren’t doing schoolwork every minute of the day. Build in breaks and schedule regular check-in times.
Schedule office hours.
“I encourage parents to schedule office hours,” says Dr. Bowers. “Designate times during the day when you’re free and available for questions.” This helps reduce stress for everyone because kids know they’ll have a specific time to ask questions and parents don’t feel like they must be available every minute. “Parents can get their own work or errands done without worrying their child might need immediate attention.”
Keep everyone’s schedule visible.
Keeping your family’s school and work schedules visible helps reduce anxiety. Use a whiteboard or large wall calendar that kids and parents can see at a glance, so they know what the plan is for each day. This visual communication tool helps kids learn time management skills that will serve them well beyond the pandemic.
Read our full article on how to identify and keep tabs on stress and anxiety in kids at www.sandiegofamily.com/resources/family-health-and-home/helping-kids-cope-with-stress.
Jody Lee Cates is a local mom and award-winning writer of the column, Parenting with Purpose.