Stress, anxiety continues in kids as school starts amid surging COVID-19 cases

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Adjusting to the pandemic can be a hard concept for some kids to understand.

Restrictions at school, masks and virtual learning are just a few of the things kids have had to deal with, but as the pandemic continues, it can take a toll.

Dr. Erika Vivyan, a child psychologist in Austin, says during the pandemic she has been busier than normal helping kids deal with stress and anxiety.

“I have seen more specific areas of anxiety, like the social anxiety, selective mutism and we are seeing an increase in those individual therapy cases because it is harder for us to hold groups,” Vivyan said. “It is really hard to do anything in person right now, so the mental health system is more overloaded than it already was.”

Talking to your kids about what they are going through can help, Vivyan said.

“Helping parents and kids find out they might have different ideas for what is safe and what is doable in the classroom,” Vivyan said. “Sometimes kiddos are nervous about getting back to school, and a parent is nervous about COVID-19, and the kid is worried about seeing their friends again.”

Understanding what truly is causing the anxiety is important as well.

“Kiddos might be worried about what if I am the only one in my classroom wearing a mask,” Vivyan said. “They might be worried about, I haven’t talked to a teacher in two years so they might have different worries that we as adults aren’t recognizing. So helping to really articulate them and then find a way to have them harness all of their bravery and take baby steps towards that.”

Vivyan says it is also important to understand getting over anxiety and stress is not a linear path. Your child might take a few steps forward then take a few steps back, but working through it and discussing the issues is important.

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