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Maintaining balance for kids amid a pandemic

The Mayo Clinic Health System provided an update Tuesday on the COVID-19 vaccine and its...
The Mayo Clinic Health System provided an update Tuesday on the COVID-19 vaccine and its distribution plans.(Max Cotton)
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 4:56 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many are struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy. The recent surge in cases has made that all the more difficult. One group especially feeling this impact are children.

Child health experts are seeing this daily. Beyond the many COVID cases among the youth, more kids are presenting with mental health issues such as eating disorders or aggressive behaviors. Janice Scheier, a social worker at the Mayo Clinic, says one of the major factors in these behaviors is control.

“We’ve seen an increase in depression, anxiety, eating disorders have increased like nothing I’ve seen,” she said. “When kids find that they’re not able to control anything in the world, their schedules, their routines, their activities, some teens will turn to controlling their eating.”

Abrupt changes from in-person to virtual learning and hybrid school schedules have taken a toll as well. While parents are battling chaotic schedule changes, kids have been trying to adapt to their own, and oftentimes parents’ stress rubs off on their children.

“Parental stress and mental health also can negatively affect childrens’ mental health,” said Scheier.

When it comes to mitigating these negative feelings, Mayo Clinic Pediatrician Nusheen Ameenuddin says quite time and relaxation are among the top things she recommends to her patients.

“What can we focus on that can make you happy? Is there a way for you to find stillness in a day? Is there a way for you to find rest?” She said.

Routines are also a big part of maintaining stability. Things like regular bed and meal times can make all the difference in uncertain times. Organizing activities with friends like play dates or outings is helpful in combatting the sense of isolation.

Finally, Ameenuddin says it’s important for parents to keep an open dialogue with kids. By taking time each night to go over concerns and list good things about each day, parents can make sure kids don’t feel alone.

“I think the importance of parents, or a loving and supportive adult in kids lives is so critical,” said Ameenuddin. “Parents can be such a powerful force in protecting and encouraging and supporting children.”

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