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Talking to Your Children So They’re Empowered, Not Afraid

July 30, 2020
As the new school year approaches, families are facing concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact their children’s learning and physical and mental wellbeing. Anthony Chico, DO, medical director of Emergency Psychiatry at GBMC, shared his insights on the topic with WBAL NewsRadio.

“Whether your child will be returning to the classroom in person this fall or continuing online learning, it’s important for parents to maintain a positive tone and a hopeful stance about the school experience,” Dr. Chico explained. “Negativity is infectious and can take away your children’s enthusiasm about their return to school.”

If your child is returning to the classroom and is fearful, it’s important to be direct and clear with them, letting them know we are making progress developing a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19. You can also explain how wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing helps both them and others, which can help them feel empowered rather than afraid.

Beyond academics, he emphasized the importance of finding safe ways for children and teens to grow as a whole person, since school is also about socialization, building independence, and becoming effective problem solvers.

What should you do if you’ve noticed signs of anxiety and depression in your child as the pandemic has dragged on? “You know your children best,” he said. “If you see changes in their sleep habits, appetite, or mood, talk to them about it. The next step is to reach out to your child’s primary care provider. And, if need be, your child can be referred to a specialist who can help them manage their mental wellbeing and build coping strategies.”
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