WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — With schools starting back up, one family counselor in Wichita Falls has some advice for parents on how to make sure their child’s mental health isn’t been effected by COVID-19.
Carrie Andree Gardner said she’s seen an increase of patients, in particular children, since the stay-at-home order ended. She said there are warning signs parents can look out for.
“Teenager may be more withdrawn and younger children may cry more easily, biting their nails, may have some type of regression in their bedtime activities,” Gardner said. “I’ve noticed with both ages that they are doing a lot of screentime because they’ve had some unstructured, a long amount of unstructured time, and so that seems to have taken over.”
Gardner said one thing parents can do is set aside time at the end of the day to talk to a child about how school went, the good and the bad.
“Tell me the best thing about your day, tell me something that scary about your day and help them label some of the different feelings and don’t be afarid of that,” Gardner said. “Help keep some constructer and normalcy because it’s different from all of us.”
As well, Gardner said kids tend to worry more when they see their parents are worried.
Gardner tells parents to ask kids what their concerns are, remind them of other hard times people have gotten through and shield younger children from grim details about the virus.
“Kids will copy a lot of times the cues that we give them, so if we’re practicing something peaceful either prayer or mindfulness, getting kind of centered and feeling safe then the children fell more safe,” Gardner said.