Safely Back to School: How parents can help kids with mental health needs

Fox 13, July 27, 2020

As kids get ready to go back to class, the impact of COVID-19 on children and families cannot be overstated. Families are under an extraordinary amount of stress that greatly impacts children across our state and country.

Rebecca Dutson from The Children's Center joined us as part of Fox 13's Safely Back to School segments. She says in their work, they are seeing increases in separation anxiety and increased difficulties with transitions.

Kids are struggling with the unknowns and the changes in their daily routines. In some cases, caregivers are home a lot more but may be unavailable because they are working from home. In other cases, caregivers are leaving the home for work and kids are struggling to separate because of their fears around their parent's safety.

Clinicians at The Children's Center often get questions from parents about how to talk to their children about the virus, social distancing and safety. They've also gotten questions from parents about how to talk to their children about family members or friends who have died and how to help their children process their fears around the virus.

Dutson says the single best thing parents can do is talk to their kids. Kids, no matter their age, know that this is a hard time. They may be feeling fear and are dealing with many losses. Loss of connection with friends and teachers, loss of traditional routines, and the loss of a sense of normalcy...just like we all have experienced.

It is also important to establish new routines for your family. Kids and parents do better when we know what to expect from our day and routines can help us with that.

If you are noticing big changes in your child such as seeming off or down most of the time, or loss of interest in an activity they used to enjoy, withdrawing or emotional outbursts, that may mean your child needs additional support.

The Children`s Center remains the largest resource available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with emotional and behavioral problems in our community.

Their dedicated team provides compassionate, effective treatment that focuses on the child while embracing the emotional needs of the entire family.

They serve approximately 2,000 children and their families every year across the Wasatch Front. They focus on families with children up to the age of six who may be facing challenges in preschool, have witnessed or experienced trauma, or are struggling with an autism spectrum disorder.

The Children's Center always encourages parents to speak with their child's pediatrician and to contact their insurance provider who can connect them with the appropriate resource for their child.

You can contact them by visiting childrenscenterutah.org.

211 is also a wonderful service if parents are needing to find resources close to home.