All Posts Tagged: broward county

woman looking at child

Our Search for Meaningfulness

The human brain is a curious organ. It is programmed from birth to actively search the world around us. As we get older and mature this search gets fine tuned and focused. We pursue education, friendships, hobbies, sports. Our quest for life experience allows us to learn about the world around us and just as importantly develop a better sense of our own identity. We progress from a period of knowledge acquisition (“knowing”) that can last decades into a prolonged journey that requires that we utilize what we have learned and productively participate in life. This “doing” often includes pursuing gainful employment and careers, raising a family, involvement in spiritual endeavors, development of hobbies, political involvement and altruistic pursuits.

Is there a common thread throughout the stage of knowing and the stage of doing? Both stages involve the presence of meaningfulness. Knowledge, employment, raising a family, friendships all invest humans with a sense of value and worthiness. Curiosity without meaningfulness leads to emptiness. Curiosity requires the attainment of goals and real-time accomplishments. Otherwise curiosity ceases and is replaced with apathy and malaise.

All of us need day-to-day meaningfulness to replenish and sustain our souls. A healthy sense of self thrives on it. The covid 19 virus has created an overwhelming challenge to life’s meaningfulness. Our pandemic world has led to anxiety, an overarching sense of helplessness, and problematic hypervigilance as we worry about getting infected. Covid 19 imposed social isolation has led to depression, hopelessness, helplessness and family stress.

How to cope with a world that none of us have control over? It is natural to experience anxiety in this scenario. Besides day-to-day meaningfulness, human beings have a need to be in control. The pandemic has brutally interfered with our belief that we have control. Social media, news outlets and politicians have contributed to our sense of helplessness by providing confusing messages and advice as we have tried to navigate this new world.

What can we do to make the best of this difficult life situation? When life around us appears chaotic and out of control, it is imperative that each one of us focus on our own personal worlds. This can best be accomplished by attending to day-to-day structure and routine. If you can’t influence the external world you certainly can control your personal life. Attention to sleep, nutrition, exercise, hobbies, family and friends, fun can facilitate healthier life balance during trying times. Meaningfulness can be derived from basic life interactions. This will sustain us through life’s travails until normality returns. And normality will return. Once normality returns, we will hopefully have become wiser and better prepared for the post pandemic world.

We Are Here For You

If your child is experiencing anxiety or depression due to the ongoing pandemic, we are here to help. For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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student graduating from college

What Makes A College A Great Fit For You During The Pandemic?

This is the time of year when college acceptances start coming in. Right now, both teens and parents are feeling incredibly overwhelmed in the decision making process, due to the pandemic. When looking at acceptance letters, what is the best way to determine what makes a college a good fit for them? Is staying close to home now the top priority?

Choosing A College During Covid

Often, high school seniors have a favorite college or university in mind, which they hope to attend because they think is best for them. While this may not always be an objective measure of a good fit, it is important that your child gets to include this college in their process of narrowing down the top college choices.

Aside from this, a college can be considered a good fit if it:

  • Provides strong degrees in your teen’s chosen career field
  • Offers access to internships
  • Is made up of students who are on the same academic level as your teen (for example, they have similar test scores and GPAs)
  • Provides personalized, strong student support
  • Is regionally accredited, with a good reputation
  • Has full time faculty teaching first year and lower level classes, rather than part timers who may be stretched thin from working on multiple campuses
  • Is affordable to your family

This year, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has added another “must” to this list: safety. When choosing a college during Covid, be sure to research which measures the school has taken to ensure the health of their student community. Also check into whether the college is located in a Covid hot spot.

If your teen feels more comfortable staying home and attending college virtually, you can be assured they’ll be safer. There are a number of other factors to consider about attending remotely, however, such as:

  • Does online learning frustrate them?
  • Are they able to learn effectively with remote instruction?
  • Will they be able to find a quiet place to study at home?
  • How will they feel if they miss out on the “college experience” they will only get by being on a campus?
  • Are they motivated to do their coursework online or do they get distracted easily?
  • Will they feel more isolated due to the lack of social connections?
  • Once the pandemic ends, will they be okay with finishing their degree at that school? Your child should never choose a particular college just because it’s online. They should be satisfied with their choice if we were living under normal circumstances.

Are Virtual College Visits Important?

In the pre-pandemic world, in-person college tours were available to help teens make better decisions about which school was best for them. Due to Covid restrictions, however, many colleges and universities have either reduced or eliminated campus tours altogether. Instead, many are offering safer virtual tours.

The problem with a virtual tour is that they may not show you a real view of campus life. Instead, they could be more sanitized, like a travel video that only highlights the best housing and areas of the campus. You might only see certain places on campus, get a scripted version of college life, and only hear interviews from select faculty or students who will present the school in its best light.

A better choice, if the schools you’re deciding on offer it, is to sign up for a live, virtual guided tour. These remote visits allow the host to walk around the campus and answer your questions via a live stream, so you’ll at least get more insight into life at the school.

In addition, many colleges and universities are offering live virtual workshops. During these, you’ll to get to ask questions about their degree programs, financial aid packages, dining plans, and so on.

To get an overview of the current safety protocols or to learn how the college has communicated with students during the pandemic, your teen could also try connecting with current students on social media. By using platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, they should be able to find out whether the school is following CDC guidelines.

Wrapping It Up

Even under normal circumstances, it can be difficult to choose between colleges. This year, however, the pandemic has made college selection even more problematic. While your teen’s safety is a top priority, you must balance that with choosing a school that is also an academic fit, supportive to students, and a social and financial fit.

In addition, consider the college’s distance from your home. If it is far away, will your teen (or you) be comfortable flying back and forth on school breaks, assuming Covid restrictions are still ongoing? If they wouldn’t, it might be best to only consider schools within driving distance or those that are strictly online.

We Are Here For You

If your child is experiencing anxiety or depression due to the ongoing pandemic, we are here to help. For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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mask-wearing student sitting in classroom

In The Classroom: Supporting Your Child At School During Covid

Vaccines are beginning to be dispensed, so hope for an end to the pandemic is on the horizon. Life, however, is still far from normal. Education has been deeply impacted by the virus response. Virtual learning is now widespread, while kids in traditional classes are having to cope with untraditional rules and regulations aimed at keeping us all safe.

If your children are attending in-person classes, there is still a different aspect to their normal day-to-day learning. Many extra-curricular programs have been closed or are operating in a limited way. Staying socially distant means kids don’t interact the way they used to. Even classroom participation may have been reduced in an effort to keep kids and teachers safe.

Back To School Tips For Parents During Covid

When your children are in a classroom, it may be hard for them to physically distance themselves from friends. The fact that they have to do so can create anxiety for some kids who may worry that peers or teachers might get sick and pass the virus on to them.

Remind your children to wash their hands during the school day and wear their masks. Teach them to cover their sneezes and coughs with their elbow.

But, at the same time, try to avoid making them feel overly cautious to the point that they are afraid to do anything. While it’s good to make them aware of their part in helping to stop the virus’ spread, it can be upsetting or frustrating for them to be constantly on guard and worrying about everything little thing they do.

Helping Kid’s Mental Health During Covid

To support your kid’s mental health during covid, try to keep to a routine. Children feel more secure when they know what to expect. Although they may complain about having to do homework at a certain time or go to bed at the same time, keeping a routine makes them feel like things are under control.

Also ensure that your children know that you are open to discussing their worries and fears. Check in with them regularly to ask if they are concerned about anything at school or if anything is bothering them.

Watch for signs that your child is anxious or depressed. Maybe they aren’t eating well or seem withdrawn or irritable. Have you noticed that their sleeping habits have changed? Are they complaining about frequent stomachaches or headaches? These changes can indicate that your kids are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety that needs to be addressed.

Acting out their fears through play or by writing or drawing can help when a child can’t find the words to tell you how they are feeling. If you are concerned they may be struggling emotionally, set aside time to interact with your child. Pay close attention to their words or ask questions about their drawings – these can give you insight into how well they are coping.

Take Care Of Yourself, Too

While you are helping your child, don’t forget to support your own mental and emotional health. Aside from navigating the innumerable changes brought on by the pandemic, many families have faced financial impacts, job loss, and the loss of loved ones to the virus.

There is no doubt that most people’s anxiety levels have increased. This upending of our normal world and the resulting reduced social connections have led to a corresponding increase in depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. If possible, stay connected with family and friends virtually for support. It can also be helpful to look for online support groups.

Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help to calm your thoughts, as can limiting sensationalized news coverage as much as possible. Try to distract yourself with a hobby or by getting some exercise, either in the home or out in a nearby park.

Anxiety and depression can show up in several ways. Keep an eye out for the signs of heightened stress that were mentioned in the prior section – in both you and your children.

If you notice concerning changes like these, it may be time to consider calling a professional – especially if these changes are becoming more obvious or have lasted for more than two weeks.

We Are Here For You

For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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boy wearing facemask

What About Kid’s Mental Health During Covid?

2020 has changed our world dramatically. We know that adults are struggling with the challenges brought on by shut downs and worries about protecting themselves and their families from the virus. But what about kid’s mental health during covid?

Our children have had to deal with their own upheavals. They’ve gone from familiar school routines and activities to shortened sports schedules, reduced or eliminated school programs and navigating through virtual learning while being isolated from friends. All of this disruption has raised their own stress levels.

Signs Of Pandemic Stress In Kids

Just as with adults, stress and anxiety in children often shows up in both physical and emotional ways.

Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Expressing fears about their health or that of a family member
  • Trouble concentrating in school, or slipping grades and test scores
  • A worsening of mental health conditions they may already have
  • Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
  • Expressing fear and / or hopelessness about the future
  • Angry outbursts, crying or tantrums

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Nightmares and problems sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, stomachaches or diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Muscle tension or, conversely, indifference and listlessness

What Should I Do If I Am Concerned With My Child’s Well Being Due To Covid-19?

Check in with your kids – It’s easy for children to get carried away by their fears, while keeping their worries to themselves. This is especially true because kids can sometimes have trouble expressing their anxiety. For that reason, it’s a good idea to check in with your kids periodically. This way, you can answer any questions and help to calm them.

Limit catastrophic thinking – Whether we realize it or not, kids pick up on their parent’s distress. As difficult as it may be for you to deal with your own concerns and “what ifs” about the impact of the pandemic, it is best if you can refrain from talking too much about them around your children.

We aren’t saying that you should act like your fears aren’t real issues, but it can help children feel more secure if parents can deal with their concerns in a healthy way.

Catastrophic thinking (i.e: automatically envisioning the worst in a situation) teaches kids to model the same behavior when dealing with their own stress. You want your child to come out of the pandemic stronger, not someone who is terrified of what the future may hold.

Think positively – You’ve probably heard the saying, “fake it ‘til you make it.” That applies with positive thinking as well.

A 2020 study by Marmolejo-Ramo, et al, published in Experimental Psychology showed that when your facial muscles turn up in a smile, “the emotion implied by the covert facial expression seems to engage a wide range of motor systems that, all together, are representative of the ongoing emotional state.”

What this means is that forming a smile with your facial muscles activates neurons in your brain. These neurons actually put you into a more positive emotional state. If you feel more positive, your outlook will be more positive, too.

Take a break from the news – The next thing to do is to take a break from your news media exposure, as well as your social media feeds. Constantly watching and reading about pandemic death counts and hearing doom and gloom stories can make anyone feel helpless. They keep our emotions and pandemic anxiety elevated.

Use the pandemic as a way to reset. Eat meals together with your kids, do activities as a family, and enjoy the things you can right now. Find creative ways to engage your kids, no matter how lame they say you are.

Boredom breeds pessimism and a more negative outlook, so try thinking out of the box. Do something totally silly with your children, like making one of those videos we’ve been seeing of dads with dancing with their kids. What your kids will remember is that you spent time with them. Doing something fun will teach them to look for the positive side of a challenging situation.

Keep to a routine – Kids feel more secure when they know what to expect and can anticipate what’s coming. Having meals or doing school work at a certain time, setting time aside for exercise and family activities, and going to sleep on a schedule all contribute to helping us feel in control. It’s okay to be flexible but, as much as possible, try to stick to the routines you had before the pandemic.

Helping Kid’s Mental Health During Covid

If your child is struggling with anxiety or depression during the pandemic, our compassionate child psychologists are here for them. For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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Toddler holding American flag

Is Election Stress Affecting Your Child?

Anxiety is mounting while the country waits for the official results of the 2020 election. In this unique pandemic year, the very contentious and now unresolved election has raised everyone’s stress levels. Since the topic is on everyone’s mind, there can be no doubt that election anxiety has affected our children as well. Regardless which side of the debate you land on, it is likely that you have been discussing the election in your home.

In the days before the election, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a “Stress in America” Harris poll that was set up to gauge stress levels. The results showed that the majority of Americans (68 %, in fact) reported feeling a significant amount of stress about the presidential race. This stress was felt across party lines. It is uncertain how much the stress of the ongoing pandemic has contributed to our anxiety, but we do know that the hotly debated and oftentimes nasty election has affected many people.

Results Of Election Stress On Kids

With so many adults talking about the election unknowns, we are sure that their distress and fear is trickling down to their children. Young children likely won’t understand the complications that have developed, but kids do pick up on their parent’s stress even when parents try to shield them.

Older children and teens who do understand the election process may have become victims of bullying after peers took sides. Even if they haven’t been harassed, they have likely felt some loss of control or may have had arguments with peers who fall on the opposite side politically.

How To Help Kids Cope With The 2020 Election Anxiety

The first thing to do when helping your child through both election stress and the pandemic anxiety is to give them a safe outlet for their fears. Make sure they know that it is normal to feel distress when things are out of our control. Tell them it is okay to ask questions or to talk about their emotions.

You will also want to limit your news consumption as well as that of your children. The same goes for social media exposure during troubling times. When we binge on news reports about election recounts or debates about the outcome, it keeps emotions running high.

Instead, try to do something together as a family. Pull out the family board games, take a walk, work on holiday crafts, visit a park, or engage your children in other activities that they enjoy. The point is to take care of yourself and your children’s mental health first.

In some ways this distress can also  have some positive aspects to it. By teaching your children to respect the opinions and political parties of others, the debate becomes a life lesson. Help them understand that it is okay for people to have different beliefs since we all have come from different backgrounds and experiences. Tolerance for another viewpoint does not mean they have to agree with it.

In addition, when the winning candidate is officially declared, your reaction can also be a life lesson for your kids. Showing them how to be gracious if your candidate won or how to respectfully accept defeat and disappointment if they didn’t teaches kids how to work towards a kinder world going forward.

Helping Children With Anxiety

For more information about how our child psychologists can help your child deal with election anxiety,  contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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child wearing face mask in empty classroom

Separation Anxiety: Going Back To School During The Pandemic

As the 2020 – 2021 school year begins, children who normally go through separation anxiety may be even more anxious about going back into the classroom during the pandemic. After all, the beginning of a new school year can be threatening during normal times, but returning into a situation where the coronavirus is likely to be present has raised anxiety levels in many kids and parents.

For parents who live in school districts that offer a choice between virtual or in-person learning, how do you make a decision about which is best for your child? Being safe at home means that kids who have special needs or who learn better in person will lose out on many learning opportunities. Children who are fearful of being in a classroom, however, will struggle more if they have to go back into the school.

All this stress can bring up school refusal in kids, not to mention heightened school anxiety in parents.

Separation Anxiety And Classroom Learning During Covid-19

Sometimes separation anxiety and school refusal begin for a child who has gone through an illness or an emotional trauma, such as moving from one neighborhood to another. In the case of the pandemic, however, illness and death is all we hear about on the news, so a child who may already be inclined to separation anxiety will only worry more.

Parents hardly fare better – in many cases they are having to choose whether to stay home with kids who will be learning virtually (thus, risking their jobs) or sending their child into a possibly contagious environment. Either way, the decision is highly distressing.

Separation Anxiety Definition

If an anxious child shows excessive concern about a separation from a parent or caregiver, or from their home, they might have developed a separation anxiety disorder. In addition, separation anxiety may be present if they show fear about the situation that is inappropriate to their age or stage of development.

Parents who are extreme worriers may show similar symptoms, which could indicate their own anxiety disorder. This is particularly true if they have been overly anxious about the safety of their child during the pandemic.

Emotional and Physical Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety

Children (and parents) who have separation anxiety may show the following symptoms including:

  • Constantly imagining worst-case scenarios
  • Difficulty going to sleep, fear of the dark, and/or nightmares
  • Avoiding activities that result in separation from the parent or child
  • Excessive worry about potential harm or illness happening to them
  • Children may be clingy, may fear being alone in a room, or may need to see a parent at all times
  • Adults may feel anxious about the child’s safety if they aren’t within sight
  • Trembling
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches and/or nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Needing frequent trips to the toilet

If a child or a parent exhibits three or more of these symptoms for more than four weeks, they are likely suffering from a separation anxiety disorder.

Separation Anxiety Treatment

While you can’t control the things that happen around you, you can learn how to control your responses and actions. When treating someone for separation anxiety, therapists try to help them learn to identify and change their anxious thoughts. Then, they teach coping methods to help the person react less fearfully to the situations that trigger their anxiety.

Remember – it is natural to worry, but we can learn to keep our fears from spiraling out of control by “naming” and identifying our thoughts. For instance, if  your child starts to imagine getting sick in school, and then pictures getting so sick they end up in the hospital, have them practice labeling these thoughts as something less threatening (ie:”That’s just a Bugs Bunny thought hopping around!”). This can often help remind the child that they are just thoughts and we are in charge of how we react to them.

Sometimes, however, self talk still can’t calm the fear and an anxiety disorder can begin. If you suspect that your child is developing an anxiety disorder, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. The longer the anxiety continues, the harder it can be to treat.

Connect with a Child Psychologist at our Children’s Center

For more information about our services to treat mental disorders in children,  contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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kids at summer camp

More Pandemic Grief: No Summer Camp, Plus School At Home

We’ve hit midsummer and kids across the country have had to deal with the disappointment of canceled summer camps this year. Now, many school districts are making parents choose between virtual learning this fall or sending their children to school during a pandemic. Some school districts are going entirely virtual. Having to face more upheaval in a year of unprecedented changes has brought up grief and anxiety for both kids and parents. Yet, despite this turmoil, there are some good things that have come from the pandemic.

The Good – Some Pandemic Silver Linings

One of the most significant changes are the family ties that formed or remodeled after our hectic lives were halted. Parents and kids are spending more time together as a family because extracurricular activities aren’t taking precedence. Plus parents who are working from home have extra time to interact with their children since they don’t have to commute.

Just being able to play like children has been good for kids. Often their lives are structured from the time they awaken until they fall into bed at night, so being able to simply play has been good for developing their imagination, exploring their world, and just being a kid.

The Bad – Pandemic Grief And Anxiety

For many kids, having no summer camp has been very distressing. It’s something they look forward to –often, they have friends there that they don’t see for the rest of the year because they live in a different state. For teens who were anticipating becoming camp counselors or who were attending their final year of camp, not being able to go is beyond frustrating.

Furthermore, children haven’t seen most of their school friends in person for several months and are now being told they likely won’t see them this fall, either. In addition, when it comes to learning, many kids do better in a classroom environment where they can see examples and question the teacher directly, so it’s upsetting for them to know they will be stuck at home and struggling with virtual learning.

Parents faced similar emotions at the canceling of camp and the prospect of having their children home for at least some of the fall school semester. Along with having to figure out how to keep kids meaningfully entertained, they’re grieving the loss of their own couple’s trips and trying to navigate another semester of being involuntary teachers.

PTSD And Anxiety In Children During COVID-19

Just as with adults, the stress of life during coronavirus has dramatically altered children’s day-to-day world.

Natural disasters like a pandemic can have long term effects on kid’s emotional and mental health. In studies of children’s mental health after Hurricane Katrina, researcher Carolyn Kousky, reported that, “researchers found high rates of PTSD symptoms as well as other negative mental health impacts and behaviors, such as aggression in adolescent.” Furthermore, a 2013 study found that kids who had gone through a quarantine for disease control scored four times higher on a post-traumatic stress test than children who hadn’t been quarantined.

You can see why it is vital for parents and adult family members to help kids make sense of the pandemic, especially in an accurate way that minimizes their fears.

  • Be available to talk if they have questions (and be sure they know they can come to you).
  • Speak to your children in a calm voice. Try to be reassuring about their fears. Remember that kids can and do pick up on cues in your tone and body language.
  • Validate their feelings of loss and try to show empathy.
  • Try to reduce or limit news broadcasts and screen time so your child (or you!) doesn’t become overwhelmed by news coverage of the pandemic.
  • Try not to condemn or ridicule someone you know to your kids if they have been sick with the virus.
  • Remind kids that rumors run wild on social media. Many stories are inaccurate.

To avoid any long term consequences, it’s essential that parents take steps to address and reduce any COVID-19 anxiety their children may have. KidsHealth.org provides great resources for keeping kids busy during the pandemic and has some helpful ideas for addressing the topic with your child.

Helping Children With Anxiety

For more information about how our mental health professionals and child psychologists can help your child deal with anxiety about the pandemic, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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Psychological evaluations

Psychological Evalutations

The Children’s Center for Psychiatry, Psychology and Related Services is pleased to again offer psychological evaluations to the community. To best serve the need of our clients we will be offering both in person appointments or remote video conferencing to get a better understanding of your child, their strengths and weaknesses, and what accommodations and interventions they would benefit from.

We are able provide our typical in person evaluations with procedures and materials to ensure safety during COVID-19 concerns. Additionally, while the evaluation process is typically a hands-on experience and the assessment tools require face-to-face interactions, we have also made adaptations to provide remote evaluations via video appointments.

As part of the evaluations we are conducting now, we will take the following steps:

  • Meet with parents via video conferencing and collect information so we can learn about your child’s emotional, behavioral, and social functioning.
  • Meet with the child via video conferencing to assess if they would be a good fit for a remote evaluation. If so, we will proceed with evaluating cognitive and academic abilities and social and emotional functioning via video conferencing. We will also be able to assess aspects of attention, impulsivity, language, and memory. We may decide that additional in person testing will be helpful.
  • Collect information from your child’s teacher through teacher rating forms and interviews.
  • Collect information from your child’s medical and school records if needed.

This information will help us gain a better understanding of your child and their unique needs and will allow us to provide consultation and recommendations to support your child both at the home and at school environments.

Additionally, we can provide psychological evaluations to help with diagnosis of mental health concerns and to assist with treatment planning.

Schedule a psychological evaluation for your child.

For more information, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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COVID paradox

The COVID Paradox

Never before in modern memory has the human race been faced with such a stressful and anxiety provoking foe. The novel coronavirus or COVI-19 has resulted in untold emotional unrest and fear among all nations and peoples of our world. There has been a lot of talk about the “invisible enemy,” an RNA based complex protein that looks like a World War 2 anti-ship mine with spikes sticking out of its surface. We are informed daily by the media that young and old victims of this virus are ending up on ventilators for weeks at a time if they survive. To “flatten the curve” and avoid overwhelming our hospitals we have had to become socially isolated, settle in place in our residences, wear masks when going out and remembering to wash our hands and not touch our faces. And after three months of dealing with this enemy of grown ups we are now being informed that children who we believed were not at risk of being made seriously ill have suffered as cases of a strange multi system inflammatory syndrome much like Kawasaki disease began to appear at hospitals.

The reality of this plague is bad enough to fathom by any rational person. The facts we are presented with certainly evoke fear and apprehension. Our frontline healthcare providers who are by their profession somewhat desensitized to run-of-the-mill suffering as they treat patients with terminal illness, heart attacks, metastatic cancer or debilitating strokes, find themselves traumatized by the COVID crisis.

So what is generating this degree of emotional suffering? Much of it comes from the unseen enemy, this virus that is only visible under special microscopes. Some of it comes from the fact that its genetic structure is novel. No human being had been exposed to it prior to its appearance in Wuhan so our immune systems had no defense against its onslaught. It is extraordinarily infectious so that an infected person will infect several people in close proximity over time.

What is the paradox that I am referring to? Actually, there is more than one paradox. The first one involves the media explosion that began last century and has exponentially continued this century. We appreciate all the benefits from being plugged in 24/7 to social media, internet messaging and an abundance of television news all day long. The digital revolution that amazed us has also proved to be harmful to our emotional well being. Multimedia exposure during the COVID pandemic has been like watching a horror movie that never ends! What we valued and embraced has turned out to be a traumatizing process. If you check the Centers for Disease Control website for data on the influenza outbreak for the 2018-2019 season you will find that 35.5 million Americans came down with the flu, 490,000 hospitalizations resulted, and there were 34,200 deaths. Imagine if the media tracked the annual flu season like they have tracked the COVID pandemic. Every flu season would be emotionally traumatizing. We certainly don’t go into lockdown every year for the flu nor do we social distance. We do have a flu shot available, but data on its effectiveness suggests a 45% effectiveness this past season. Our advantage with influenza is that over time, all of us have had some level of exposure to this family of viruses imparting a degree of “herd immunity.”

This brings us to the core paradox. If we stay locked down and isolated indefinitely there will be no herd immunity developing. The concept of herd immunity means that if enough of our population is exposed and develops immunity to this virus, ongoing spread becomes very difficult. For example, smallpox, chicken pox, measles and mumps had been the scourge of society until the administration of vaccines essentially created a herd immunity.

We will eventually have an effective vaccine for COVID-19 but it will be some time before we will be able to provide mass inoculation. If there had been no COVID-19 social isolation our healthcare system would be over run, resulting in a tsunami of fatalities.

So the course that is being taken is to gradually open up our lockdown while we carefully prepare for future waves of illness. Be reassured that there will come a day in the not too distant future that this horrible virus will be no greater a threat than the annual flu. That time will come.

Connect With A Child Psychologist At Our Children’s Center

If your child is experiencing anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic, our child psychologists are available for online services. For more information, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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teen wearing fack mask

Is The COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting Your Child’s Mental Health?

Schools have been closed for the last couple of months since the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the country. Stories about the virus’ effects and death rates abound on the news and on social media. Usually, we wouldn’t expect children to be too affected by broadcasts about a new disease unless someone close to them gets sick. In this case, however, their lives have been upended by school closings, parents working from home (or losing their jobs), the requirement to shelter in place and wear masks, and the inability to gather with friends or go to familiar venues.

Children are also likely tapping into their parent’s own fears and concerns. In turn, they may worry that they, their friends, or their family will catch COVID-19. We can estimate how this affects American kids by reading through the studies that were done on children in China, where the outbreak began.

In an article on Psychology Today, Jamie D. Aten, Ph.D., founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, reports that, “due to uncertainties surrounding the outbreak and ongoing scientific research, it’s estimated that 220 million Chinese children are at a risk of facing mental health issues due to potential prolonged school closure and home containment.”

If this is true for the children in China, why would it be any different here for kids in the United States?

Why Kids Need Mental And Emotional Support During COVID-19

The stress and apprehension surrounding the coronavirus pandemic has altered children’s day-to-day world in a huge way. We know that natural disasters such as this can have a long term effect on kids, just as they can for adults.

As an example, one researcher, Carolyn Kousky, noted that in studies of children’s mental health after Hurricane Katrina, “researchers found high rates of PTSD symptoms as well as other negative mental health impacts and behaviors, such as aggression in adolescent.”

For older children, the added disappointments that have come along with the safer-at-home orders – such as the cancellation of graduations and proms, no school athletic games or activities, and isolation from friends – is sure to have emotional consequences, too.

In fact, it was reported in a 2013 study that researchers found that kids who had gone through a quarantine for disease control scored four times higher on a post-traumatic stress test than children who had not had that same experience.

How To Help Your Child Through Pandemic Anxiety

It’s important for parents and adult family members to help kids make sense of the pandemic, especially in an accurate way that minimizes their fears.

  • Let your child know that you are available to talk if they have questions.
  • When talking to your children, do so in a calm voice. Try to be reassuring and also remember that kids will pick up on cues in your body language and tone.
  • Consider reducing or limiting news broadcasts and screen time so your child doesn’t become overwhelmed by news coverage of the pandemic.
  • Remember that this pandemic can affect anyone, so try not to condemn or ridicule someone you know who may have contracted the virus.
  • Remind kids that rumors run rampant on social media and that many stories are inaccurate.

Teach your children how to stay safe during the pandemic (and afterward):

  • They should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (have them sing the birthday song twice as an easy way to count the time). They especially need to do this after sneezing, blowing their nose, or using the bathroom, and before eating or handling food. Hand sanitizer is a great option if soap and water are not available (supervise young children if they are using hand sanitizer).
  • If your child needs to sneeze or cough, they should do it into their elbow or a tissue (then throw the tissue in the trash).
  • Stay away from those who are sick or are sneezing or coughing.
  • Keep things that they touch clean. Wipe down frequently used objects such as doorknobs, light switches, the television remote, their phone or tablet frequently with a disinfectant to avoid spreading germs.

It’s important for parents to take steps to address and reduce any COVID-19 anxiety their children may have, so they can avoid any long term consequences. KidsHealth.org provides some great resources for keeping kids busy during the pandemic and offers some helpful hints for addressing the topic with your child.

Connect With A Child Psychologist At Our Children’s Center

If your child is experiencing anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic, our child psychologists are available for online services. For more information, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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