Will self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic impact our kids for life?

Kids' mental health during pandemic

HOUSTON – If you have noticed a change in your kid’s behavior, you are not alone. Some parents worry that isolation measures are doing lasting damage to their kids. School is out, activities are canceled and kids are not seeing their friends. Their world is turned upside down. From social distancing to isolation at home, will this time damage our kids?

“A lot of my parents have approached me with this concern,” said Mallory Striesfeld, LPC, LG Counseling. “Are my kids are my teens ruined for life because of this? Because of COVID-19 and because of the fact that they’ve had to be quarantined so long and lack of social growth?”

Some feel impact more

Striesfeld says kids don’t have to be impacted long term because of this. But certain kids may feel it more than others.

“There’s a handful of kids that could experience post-traumatic stress such as kids that are predisposed to depression and anxiety already,” she explained. “There’s going to be a higher risk for those who are economically disadvantaged. A lot of kids take on those stresses that they normally don’t take on, that includes financials, that includes whether or not my lights are going to be kept on.”

Martha Montoya-Sanchez works with disadvantaged kids in the Houston area. She’s a student support specialist with Communities in Schools of Houston.

“I’m there to support families during the most difficult times of their lives. This is one of the most difficult times of parents, families’ lives,” Montoya-Sanchez said.

CIS provides comprehensive services for students and families trying to cope with hardships, including economic, academic, and social-emotional issues. From trauma and mental health counseling to meals and other emergency resources, CIS student support specialists, normally embedded on campuses, are doing whatever it takes to remotely help students stay on their path to success in college and careers. They are busier than ever right now.

“We are doing weekly check-ins calling every single one of our kids in our caseload,” Montoya-Sanchez said. “Any of our children who might need emotional support or parents that might need emotional support we are providing that as well.”

This 2019-20 school year, CIS student support specialists have been called to help more than 125,000 students in Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Alief ISD, Aldine ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Southwest Schools, and Lone Star Colleges.

Kids will mirror our reactions

Montoya-Sanchez is doing her part to help the kids feel normal during this time. That’s exactly what kids need right now says Striesfeld. How adults react to all of this is key.

“The more we focus on the stress, the more our kids are going to feed off of this. The less that we give power and attention to it, the less our kids are likely too as well,” said Striesfeld.

If you notice any behavior changes in your child, consider having them talk to someone about it. For example, talk to your kids if you see them withdrawing, isolating, or are quick to anger. Seeking help early is key.

Communities In Schools of Houston is a nonprofit, and services for students are funded in part by generous donations from the community. An emergency COVID-19 Response Fund has been set up to help more families in this time of need.

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