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The COVID-19 pandemic brought out a range of emotions in all of us – fear, anxiety, frustration and even anger. That can be especially true for children.

If you’ve noticed mood swings, angry outbursts, withdrawal or changes in appetite or sleep patterns in your kids, know this: You’re not alone, and help is available, said Terry Stancin, PhD, MetroHealth’s Chief of Psychology and Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology.

“We’re living in unusual and uncertain times, and families are experiencing a huge amount of anxiety, concern and frustration,” Dr. Stancin said. “We’re all trying to adjust to this new normal – kids included. When it comes to your child’s behavior, if you feel like things are getting worse – not better – bending the ear of a professional would be beneficial.”

Start by reaching out to your child’s pediatrician, Dr. Stancin says. If further evaluation is needed, he or she can connect your family with one of MetroHealth’s pediatric psychologists who can help develop strategies to manage challenging behaviors and, ultimately, reduce stress in your household.

Here are some quick tips from Dr. Stancin that could help your household run a bit more smoothly:

Make a Routine

A consistent routine can be calming and regulating for kids, especially during times of stress and uncertainty. Children benefit from knowing what’s going to happen and when. It may even help jotting down a schedule and going over it each day as a family.

Resist Screen Time and Get Moving

Physical activity can reduce stress, boost brain function and help children focus. The exercise is, of course, good for their physical development, too!

Focus on Strengths

It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong. Switch gears and focus on what’s going well – and, most importantly, build upon it. Catch your child being good: State what they did well and explain how proud you are.

Don’t Ignore Your Own Self-Care

Being a parent or caregiver certainly isn’t easy. And while it’s difficult to set aside some time for yourself, it’s more important than ever. Get enough sleep, take a walk, connect with your social supports or just find time to stretch and breathe slowly. “Give yourself a break,” says Dr. Stancin. “No one has been a perfect parent during this pandemic.”

To schedule an appointment with a MetroHealth pediatrician, call 216-778-2222. You can also contact Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health at 216-778-3745.


Terry Stancin, PhD, MA