A child’s ability to take care of themselves is about more than just dressing and undressing, brushing their teeth, and using the restroom independently. While these skills are important for physical health and self-reliance, good emotional habits are also critical for a child’s well-being.
The past year has been a trying time for all of us. If your kids are struggling with the effects that COVID-19 continues to have on their daily life, a little self-care can go a long way. Here are some tips for teaching healthy emotional habits to your children.
- Exercise daily: As little as 20 minutes of moderate daily exercise may help prevent symptoms of depression, making it an essential part of self-care. To make exercise fun, help your kids find an activity they love, such as skateboarding, biking, or playing fitness video games.
- Minimize media usage: Excessive social media and screen time can lead to increased distress to your child, provide them with other worthwhile ways to pass their time.
- Teach stress management: When you know a stressful event is coming up, it helps to discuss it with your children in advance. Help them understand that everyone goes through challenges and they’re not alone in facing hard times. Then, suggest ways to cope, including play time, mindfulness, and yoga.
- Find kid-friendly self-care resources online: You’ll find many mobile apps and websites offering mindfulness activities and yoga exercises to make these self-care techniques more accessible to your children.
- Be open about your emotions: There’s a stigma against negative emotions in our society, but it’s healthier to experience and process normal levels of anxiety, stress, and anger than to stuff these feelings down. When your children get upset, reflect and validate their emotions without trying to offer a quick fix. Don’t insist that they calm down right away before having a chance to experience the full depth of their feelings.
- Encourage downtime every day: As with adults, children can often be over-scheduled. They may be so busy with school, clubs, and extracurricular activities that they have little to no downtime. Cancel some of your children’s obligations so they have time to spend engaged in unstructured play and to relax with the family.
- Be a good role model: If you expect your kids to exercise every day or spend less time on their phones/devices, practice what you preach. You can also use your need for downtime as an example of how important it is to let your body and mind relax.
- Practice self-care as a family: Get everyone on board with the concept of self-care so it’s easy to share experiences and tips with one another. Not only can this improve each person’s self-care routine, but it may also help you grow closer as a family.
If these self-care tips aren’t enough to combat your child’s heightened anxiety, stress, and negativity, STAR of CA can help. We offer behavioral and psychological services to children, adolescents, adults, and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. Please contact us at 805.588.8896 to find out more about our evidence-based services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Americans to stay apart for more than a year now. This has had devastating consequences on many people’s mental health. The negative impact of school closures, service disruptions, and endless at-home time has been particularly severe among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Even so, not all of the effects have been negative.
Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK) conducted a coronavirus survey last year to learn more about how families were coping, and over 8,000 people responded. About 93 percent of the survey participants were female parents or guardians of school-age kids, 80 percent of whom were boys. The average age of the respondents’ children was 12 years old. Here’s what the survey reveals about how COVID-19 has affected children with ASD.
Negative Effects of COVID-19 on Children with ASD
- Unwanted change: Many families reported struggling with the general upheaval and chaos brought on by the pandemic. Children experienced more anxiety, emotional breakdowns, and aggression because of the numerous disruptions to their routine.
- School closures and service disruptions: Almost every school in the country closed at some point last year. As a result, 63 percent of parents reported decreased access to the services and therapies their children rely on. A whopping 95 percent of these families said that the service disruptions negatively impacted their child’s behavior. The most severe disruptions to ASDS-related services occurred among families with children under five years old.
- Lack of childcare options: Parents expressed the difficulty of juggling work while their kids were at home with limited childcare options. The lack of trained people available to provide specialized services also proved problematic at the height of the pandemic.
Positive Effects of COVID-19 on Children with ASD
- Distance learning: While some parents reported that online schooling was challenging and inconvenient, many said that the controlled setting and slower pace worked better for their kids.
- Extra family time: Social distancing requirements left many families with more time to spend together. This created the chance to grow relationships, pursue hobbies, and explore mindfulness activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga.
- Remote services and therapies: While the pandemic has limited in-person services, 35 percent of families said they were receiving teletherapy. About 43 percent of these families expressed moderate to significant benefits from these services.
There’s no doubt that this pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives. Most of us have felt stressed or overwhelmed at one time or another, which has impacted our physical, emotional, and mental health. Even so, resources remain available to help parents of children with ASD manage the ongoing challenges.
For instance, STAR of CA offers in-person services to anyone who can pass our fitness for service screening. Our program addresses developmental delays, behavioral problems, and other challenges associated with ASD using integrated, evidence-based practices. If you have concerns about participating in our program, please review our COVID-19 updates or contact us at 805.588.8896 for more information.
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