This year may be incredibly stressful for Union County School District, teachers, parents, caregivers, and children going back to school during another COVID-19 surge. This is the second year for some students enrolled in virtual learning. Children need human interaction to aid in developmental growth and a sense of belonging. Not sitting in a classroom with face-to-face interactions with teachers, friends, or mentors, could make the student feel lonely or isolated. School friends and family play a special part in the educational experience.
As adults, we should be mindful that children and adolescents are watching our behaviors during the pandemic and need our love and support to help them be resilient. Self-care is particularly important for adults and children, especially for maintaining mental health and coping with stress. The uncertainty of tomorrow can lead to elevated levels of stress on the job, in the home, and in the classrooms for your children.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) states that all children and teens respond or react to stress differently than adults. Here are only a few signs to watch for in your child’s behavior:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Excessive worry or sadness because of a loss of a friend or loved one
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens because of social distancing
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
If you notice your child experiencing unusual behavior issues, use these few tips to help support your child coping with stress during the school year especially if in a virtual classroom:
- Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.
- Limit their exposure to news coverage, including social media.
- Search for a meaningful activity, new hobby, or exercise for positive family engagement.
- Assure children get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well.
- Connect them when possible with friends and family.
- Connect with faith-based organizations for spiritual self-care.
Children are not always resilient and might not know how to express their feelings or bounce back well during crisis or traumatic events. Union County has a variety of resources that can help your child manage stress in a variety of ways. Mental health organizations like South Arkansas Regional Health can provide qualified counselors to help with positive mental health. Eagle Foundation helps with tutoring and personal growth in youth (www.eaglearkansas.org). eXtreme Youth Programs at each county school teaches prevention and intervention skills in teens and gets them involved in positive activities whether they are in school or a virtual learner (www.extremeyouthprograms.com). For more information on positive youth programs or assistance contact Jill Weinischke, Community Impact Manager at SHARE Foundation (870) 881-9015.
SHARE Foundation is a non-profit in Union County whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of the community. The Union County Violence Intervention Plan (VIP) was developed in order to make available a network of area supports, opportunities, and activities focused on best practice strategies for a community committed to changing the odds for individuals and families in need. The VIP can be viewed at www.sharefoundation.com/our-agencies/grants-vip/vip.html.