Page 10 - Scene Magazine 45-07 July 2020
P. 10

Turn your fear, and that of your children, into a joyful new way to look at each day.
 ADULTSare clearly feeling challenged by limited social interaction with others these days. We know because of the types of searches being done online. A re- cent study completed at Cornell University analyzing Google search trends revealed
a significant increase in topics such as boredom, loneliness, worry, and sadness. Their conclusion, “Our results suggest that people’s mental health may have been severely affected by the lockdown.”1
As a result of this pandemic, howev- er, isolation is now impacting our youth
as well. Our children are experiencing a major change in social patterns as they have been removed from play, learn-
ing, and other interactions with friends. These changes are resulting in loneliness, depression, anxiety, acting out, and more, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The results of this 2020 study indicate that social isolation in children is associ- ated with a greater risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, and may increase as enforced isolation continues. Furthermore, the impact might not be noticed immediately, but could appear up to a decade later. They recom- mend that, “Clinical services should offer preventative support and early interven- tion where possible and be prepared for an increase in mental health problems.”2
So what can we intentionally do to support healthy responses for our children and help them to transition from isolation to socialization once again? The simplest answer could be returning to school.
According to State Superintendent
Dr. Michael Rice, “We’re going back to school.” Dr. Rice is encouraged by the MI Safe Schools Return to School roadmap, which offers guidelines about the types of safety protocols that will be required or recommended at each phase of the gov- ernor’s MI Safe Start Plan. Furthermore, the governor has signed Executive Order 2020-142 requiring Michigan school dis- tricts to adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, in which they detail how they will protect students and staff. Reach out to your school district to find out what is planned.
Until then, we should look to identify children’s vulnerabilities and take steps to intervene now to reduce or possibly pre- vent loneliness within the understanding of disease transmission. Waiting until the “All Clear” has been issued could
be a mistake.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. The CDC encourages you to watch for these signs of stress or behavior changes:
• Excessive crying or irritation in younger
• Returning to behaviors they have out-
grown (for example, toileting accidents
or bedwetting).
• Excessive worry or sadness.
• Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits.
• Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in
• Poor (home) school performance or
avoiding school.
• Difficulties with attention and
• Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past.
• Unexplained headaches or body pain. • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other
If you’ve seen an increase in these symptoms since the pandemic hit, your child may be experiencing stress or feeling scared or lonely due to the current crisis.
What can parents do? Frankly, a lot. Talking with your kids is a great start but it might also be scary. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand. Reas- sure your child that they are safe but that there are new rules to follow. Parents and caretakers also play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands by example.
Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Sometimes children feel more comfortable talking to another adult, a grandparent, or even a professional. It’s always interesting to listen to kids talking to other kids about things that scare them. I’m amazed at the wisdom that one child can provide to another.
Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
Be a role model. That means doing activities that reduces your stress. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that children are like sponges. That means they pick up on your stress as well as your healthy behaviors.

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