Wednesday, May 20, 2020

How are They Really? 100 Resources to Help Kids and Teens Stay Informed and Cope with Anxiety Surrounding Coronavirus



Disclosure:  This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. This was originally posted on April 9th. Resources will be updated weekly. 

In a recent article I read from the Daily News, it's mentioned that there's been a 60% increase in calls to the NYC branch of the National Alliance for Mental Health but sadly children aren't being accounted for.  How are the kids doing really? Listed in this guide you'll find over 100 resources on everything from expert articles with tips for parents and caregivers with kids of all ages, meditation apps, podcasts, teletherapy services, books, and indoor activities.



Way before this global crisis neither of our sons cared to be in the room when the news was on, the negative headlines of crime, death, etc would cause them a bit of angst and they'd quickly ask us to change the channel to anything less stressful.

We've made it a point to have honest conversations with our 9 and 15-year-old about what this virus is, how people can avoid getting sick, and encourage them both to ask us questions. As overwhelming as this pandemic been for us as adults who've never experienced anything like this, imagine how nerve-wracking it must be for our children who've been adjusting to not going to school or seeing their friends & family members who live outside of their home. 

Like for many of you, adjusting to this new normal with all four of us at home took some getting used to at first. While many states have started to open up again, we're still staying in place here in New York City and just focused on staying healthy and keeping sane. Where our two boys are blessed to live in a supportive and loving home (that's not free from the typical family ups and downs) as a former preschool and elementary school educator my heart goes out to all of the at-risk children who are especially vulnerable right now and have challenging home situations. 


                     
Before the Governor mandated the need for us to wear masks in NYC, there was a ridiculous instance I shared on our Instagram stories where a woman in a dollar store loudly ranted about us having our son outside while we popped in to grab a few necessities. Calmly we told her we understood her concerns but she wouldn't stop and was freaking out our son to the point where he said he no longer wanted to step out of our gated complex. It had been nearly 2 weeks since he'd been at school or gone outside and this woman ruined his first experience outdoors, simply by placing her fears on him. You can get a glimpse into our Pandemic life over on Instagram, where I documented the day this happened.

At 9 years old he just wants to see his friends, play with his younger cousin, and is super bummed that he's missed out on his first hip hop dance competition and won't get to hit the field for flag football this season. Tristan's so over wearing gloves and face masks he can't breathe through, but overall he's been in great spirits while adhering to these new guidelines, face-timing family and is loving "homeschool" life so much that, aside from the socializing he'd consider doing it for longer.



"Are you and daddy going to die? This reminds me of when everyone else was dying."

Practicing safe social distancing in a NYC apartment while having kids who need some extra love and attention can be tough! There was an evening when our tween broke into tears as my hubby Mike and I turned away his request for a hug.

Although we'd been washing our hands regularly and Mike had been wearing gloves on the rare occasions he went out for groceries and laundry, out of caution we wanted to make sure we were feeling better after nearly two weeks of flu-like symptoms before we went back to loving up on each like normally. Trying to hold back my own tears, I wiped the ones falling down the side of his face as he expressed his honest concern "I just don't want to lose any more family members."  

We could hear the worry in his voice and it was justifiable. With 3 of his favorite uncles passing away unexpectedly, just months apart from varied illnesses, followed by his grandpa suffering a major heart attack and memories of my month-long hospitalization and both of our emergency surgeries, it was only natural that he'd be fearful and have questions. The idea of family, friends, neighbors, and strangers dying by the hundreds on the daily is scary to think about at any age. 

This is uncharted territory for medical experts and our government for that matter, so please be easy on yourself as you try to find ways to support your children emotionally. The resources below are for you to keep in your own arsenal with suggestions on how we can all keep our kids and teens informed with age-appropriate information and to help them cope with their anxiety surrounding daily stressors & the Coronavirus pandemic.

Resources to Explain the Coronavirus
                                           


A lot of the conversations surrounding what exactly COVID_19 is can be seriously confusing for kids and teens who may be overwhelmed by the details and unable to decipher any fake news they may encounter on social media. Of course, the CDC has an article out on Talking with children about Coronavirus disease 2019 which was informative and I  was so grateful to stumble upon this comic for kids from NPR.org that I sat and read with our tween.  It breaks it down in a simple way for them to understand and then you guys should give a listen to this NPR podcast to help with any questions. 

Surely our kids are intrigued by how this virus even gets in our bodies and passes along to family, friends, and the community. This kid-friendly infographic from
Live Science explains it in a really visual way while breaking down terms like "flattening the curve". Also, check out their Kids Guide

Articles

PBS: How to talk to your kids about Coronavirus 

NY Times: Answering Kids Questions about the Coronavirus in Free Picture Books. 

NY Times: 
How Coronavirus Hijacks your cells 

Essence: Not sure how to talk to your kids about Coronavirus? Experts advice 


Videos



In this five-minute explainer, the PLAYMOBIL mascot ROBert the robot takes kids through the ins and outs of COVID-19. This short video focuses on the “human” side of COVID-19, rather than the scientific one—i.e., teaching kids about how viruses spread through everyday activities and why self-isolation is so important.

Podcasts
Our teen Chris has been holed up in his bedroom pretty much since this beginning of all of this, only leaving our apartment to walk our dogs, the family walk we took on Easter and just this week he tossed the football around with his brother in the yard. Unrelated to the Coronavirus, at the start of March he'd had some complaints of stomach pain and acid reflux that resulted in an urgent care visit and a daily dose of Pepcid. When April rolled around he'd been complaining of difficulties falling asleep and of aches and soreness which we chalked up to him hardly moving his 6ft lean body. 
Routine went out the window initially and we've seen talks on teens developing "Vampire" schedules. He'd wake up at 5 or 6 am only to doze off and then "go" to 8 am classes, followed by hours of gaming with his boys to escape hearing any headlines. Then he'd stay up past midnight scrolling IG memes and watching Youtube all while his stomach anxiously tied itself in knots.  After googling symptoms and asking us nightly to feel his neck for fevers I started wondering if these were all somatic freakouts in his head surrounding the coronavirus.  Knowing my history with Crohn's, a chronic autoimmune disease, and his unusual loss of appetite, he's having a telehealth appt. with a pediatric gastroenterologist to rule anything serious out.


 Where we aren't worried about him academically, he's a 9th-grade honors student taking 11th-grade courses, we have been worried about him emotionally. Being the extremely aware and cautious teen that he is, our sports-loving, extroverted teen would rather forego being active outdoors at the risk of catching the virus. We try not to push the issue but know that the amount of physical activity he's used to would certainly lift his spirits, help him relax, and literally loosen him up a bit. Now nearing the end of May, Chris has managed to unplug way more by reading, playing his guitar & piano, and indulging us in the occasional family game night.

In that Daily News OpEd I mentioned, they highlight the children's mental health crisis with alarming stats on children here in NYC:
Before the pandemic, New York State was already experiencing a deadly gap in access to children’s mental health care. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for ages 15-19, and the third leading cause of death for ages 5-14. One in five New York children had one or more emotional, behavioral or developmental conditions, yet over half of children diagnosed with a mental or behavioral health condition didn’t get needed treatment. Now, in the midst of unprecedented loss and global anxiety, these youth and their families need access to quality, affordable and timely behavioral health services more than ever. 
There've been several published pieces from trusted outlets that have listed some signs to look out for if you think your kids and teens have anxiety surrounding the Coronavirus and are struggling with daily stressors. By far I found that the Child Mind Institute had the most extensive list of information. In addition to their telehealth services, they offer tons of articles and resources for families with kids and teens, single parents, kids with autism, ADHD, etc. 
Highlights emotions and self-awareness, usage of glitter jars, breathwork, and overstimulation. 

Fatherly: How feelings charts can help anxious kids during the pandemic
Highlights finding ways to help children identify their various feelings through reflection.

Gen Mindful: 8 tips for taming anxiety when your child fears the Coronavirus
Highlights validating emotions, using art, using a worry box, and breathing techniques.

Highlights mood swings, regressive behaviors, change in sleeping and eating patterns, over usage of screen time, and clinginess. 

Huffpost: 10 mental health signs to watch out for in kids in the age of COVID-19
Highlights regressive behaviors, changes in appetite, sleep issues, mood shifts, reassurance-seeking, clinginess, somatic complaints, withdrawal, trouble focusing and acting out.

HuffPost: These are the little things kids are appreciating right now.
Highlights the silver linings that kids and their families have discovered amid the pandemic. 


Highlights tips to ease the minds of family members, focusing on what's in your control, social media breaks, and hobbies.

PopSugar:
The Pandemic may have long term effects on our kid's mental health.
Highlights parents dealing with their own fears first, a shift in children's emotions, following their lead in conversations surrounding coronavirus, blanketed reassurance, and extreme or obsessive behaviors.

Highlights ditching fear, self-care, getting outdoors, saying no, and asking for help. 

Life with Tanay:  How to help your extrovert child deal with social distancing
Highlights virtual playdates, online games, heading outside, moving your body, and unplugging. 

Ok Dani: 5 Spiritual growth practices to teach your anxious kids
Highlights yoga, EFT(tapping), affirmations, breathe work, and journaling. 

New York Times: The benefits of exercise for children's mental health.
Highlight studies on the correlation between physical activity and depression among adolescents. 


Highlights learning about the virus, protecting vulnerable people, learning new skills, enjoying independence, talking to parents, and finding new ways to connect. The article also highlights important numbers for teens who are struggling 
The coronavirus crisis doesn’t eliminate the many other problems you might face. It only adds another layer of complexity. This site can help connect you to emergency food and other basics. If an adult is abusing you, contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. If you feel suicidal, you can get confidential, judgment-free help from the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-8255Here are some other crisis resources.
Highlights knowing the facts, what's in your control, relaxation technique, speaking up, and talking to a professional.

Buzzfeed: 12 teens on being stuck at home because of the Coronavirus
Highlights what life has been like for them at home while distance learning and social distancing. 

Highlights tips for helping autistic children to adjust to changes while remaining calm.



Meditation Apps 
  • Breathe think do with Sesame: Provides strategies to find calm and problem solve.
  • Stop Breathe and Think Kids: 15 free mindful activities, 30 premium & sticker rewards. 
  • Dreamy Kid: Free meditations, healing activities, guided journeys, affirmations.
  • Insight Timer: Visualization & meditation techniques that help to ease nerves and provide a peaceful night of sleep.
  • Breethe: Kid-friendly and teen approved, engaging meditations categorized in 3 age groups with focuses on gratitude, calming bodies, and being aware of thoughts, breathing, and emotions
  • Centered Combines the benefits of both mindfulness-based meditation and activity. 
  • Relax Melodies: Create your own mix of soundscapes to sleep better & relax.
  • Calm: Focuses on meditation, relaxation, and sleep. 
  • Headspace: Includes 5 themes to explore - calm, focus, kindness, sleep, wake up. A bonus is that they offer free meditations target towards NYC families like ours. 
  • Aura: Through daily mindfulness meditations, life coaching, stories, and music reduce stress & anxiety, improve focus, and sleep better. It's all personalized to you based on your mood.
  • Unplug: There's guided imagery, breathwork, and kids' and teens' section.

Therapy Apps & Services

Videos



Podcasts 
  • Be Calm on Ahway Island: A soothing podcast to teach self-regulation and calm. It provides self-soothing techniques and an understanding of solutions to everyday situations to help grow your child's confidence and positive behaviors. 
  • Peace Out: Short stories that help children calm down and relax by guiding them through visualization and breathing exercises. 
  • Anxious Toddlers Parenting Survival Podcast: How to explain the Coronavirus to kids with anxiety and OCD.
  • Big Life Kids Podcast: In the episode "How Kristina meditates to feel better" listeners will learn how meditation not only helps to feel better but to sleep better.


Wellness essentials

We're listing a few products that are part of our tween's bedtime routine to help him chill out. Typically not all of the tools are used in one day/night, he mixes it up as needed. As I mentioned earlier, Tristan's been handling all of this very well. He's always been surprisingly very intuned to what he needs to center himself, so he's been switching it up between podcasts and bubble baths, throwing the football around for a few minutes while wearing his Black Panther face mask and using a few rolls of lavender oil before bedtime.  
  • Crane Aromatherapy diffuser: We're obsessed with this cool misting, essential oil diffuser. We usually put in lavender, eucalyptus, or another oil called 'rain' right before bedtime and love that it has mesmerizing color-changing lights.  We also have this teardrop-shaped Crane aromatherapy diffuser in another room. 
  • Oilogic Essential Oils: The lavender blend roll-on is a favorite, not only to help get to sleep but to help relax in the afternoon after an overwhelming day.
  • Story Pirates Podcast: To help clear his head, a bedtime necessity is unwinding with a few of the entertaining stories featured. They're so hilarious to him, it's the perfect distraction from all of the negative news circulating.


Bored in the house, and they're in the house bored. Beyond distance learning and remote work, how are you and your kids managing to keep busy these days? Kids who move their bodies and take time to create things and connect with others will thrive from the positive connections and physical and creative energy being used. In the last 2.5 months we've gone on more family walks, the boys and I have joined in helping Mike in the kitchen, there have been rounds of Dominoes and 500 and as the weather warms out we plan to exercise and hang in the yard more. We've recently discovered the site Wide Open School which is powered by Common Sense media and features an abundant amount of family-friendly resources for kids of all ages, in partnership with Google, Scholastic, Khan Academy, National Geographic, Sesame Street and more. You'll find everything from core academics to physical activities, virtual tours, life skills, emotional well being among other topics.


Videos


          
  • Nike Playlist:  With new videos added every Wednesday this series encourages kids to stay active and have fun wherever they are with this series of content featuring 11 yr old skateboarder Sky Brown!
  • Alo Gives: Free, Scholastic-approved videos designed to introduce kids to the skills necessary to calm their minds and bodies, mute negativity, and promote learning.
  • New York Road Runners: Rising New York Road Runners is designed to develop movement skills in kids of all ages and abilities. They've developed fun activities for children and their families, that keep space and social distancing in mind.
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga: Yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation designed for kids aged 3+, used in schools and homes all over the world
  • GoNoodle:  Free online resource that provides tons of ways for kids and families to be active, stay mindful, and keep on learning!
  • Yoga Ed: Free online yoga and mindfulness tools to help families with tweens and teens stay grounded, connected, and healthy. 

Guides, Journals, Printables, and Workbooks
  • My Lockdown Diary: Kids can show their appreciation for being in lockdown and document their time to look back on in the future. 
  • Moodsters First Aid for Feelings: A workbook to help kids cope during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Sparked: A card game that uplifts and brings people together through movement, writing, speaking, guessing, and storytelling.
  • Brooklyn Active Mama: How to help kids talk about big feelings is a free printable that helps children identify their feelings with daily check-ins.
  • Today is great: A daily gratitude journal for kids.
  • I'm So Freaking Freaked Out Inner Truth Journal: Filled with reassuring prompts and honest quotations, I'm So Freaking Freaked out is a lined writing journal that will let you chill out, at least until you freak out again.
  • I Guess I'll Write It Down: A journal for all kinds of good and bad stuff - fears, anxieties,  hopes, dreams mixed with fun cartoons. 
  • Stuff that Sucks: A teen's guide to accepting what you can not change and committing to what you can. 

We hope that you've found this list of resources helpful in some way and that you're all healthy, and safe. Was there anything cited that you've tried and found useful? or something you've read or tried that we haven't mentioned?  Let us know in the comments below and subscribe to our newsletter which will include more suggestions on how to keep your tweens and teens busy through the summer and beyond. 

12 comments:

  1. Such a great post! I see lots of posts about how to talk to your children about it, but not a lot of how we can get our kids outside help (because honestly, sometimes they don’t want to talk to us parents). Thanks so much for creating this huge resource!

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    1. It’s true, sometimes they don’t always want to talk to us. We just try to remind them that we are always here to listen or remind them they have my younger siblings who they can talk to also. Thanks for reading. I hope it’s useful

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  2. Such a good article. I have my niece and she is 13 with this pandemic I wil share thid to her parents.

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  3. What an awesome post. Sorry you had to experience the lady at the store...people can be very opinionated. i think most parents want only the best for their kids so you just do what feels right!

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    1. She was intense, we totally understood but an adult should never place that kind of energy on someone else’s child. Thanks for reading!

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  4. This is insanely useful. Thank you for such a thorough and practical post.

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  5. I love everything about this post. I think it's incredibly important to think about how scary this could be for kids. Even older kids may not quite understand. Thank you for the resources!

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  6. This is such a thorough post. Thanks for sharing your family's journey during this difficult time.

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  7. This is a great resource for this time! I am grateful that my kids are so young that they haven't noticed too much change!

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  8. i love all of these resources to help kids that are struggling. It is such a hard time right now and they need things like this now more then ever.

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  9. Thank you for sharing all these resources. It's definitely tough for kids right now. So much uncertainty and fear. Hang in there! NY is amazing and strong!

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