Distance learning may take a toll on your child’s mental health, here’s how to help

Updated: Apr. 28, 2020 at 4:50 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Uncertainty, this pandemic can really take a toll on emotional and mental health, especially for your children.

Just this morning, my daughter woke up and was like ‘Mom, I don’t like this,’” said Nikki Perez, a mother in Ascension Parish. “It’s hard.”

Perez explained that the new distance-learning takes an emotional toll on her household. She said her daughters miss their friends and teachers from school.

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You could be having a bad day and there is always someone there to lift you up or make you feel good,” she said.

Perez said she may even miss school more than her girls do. She’s a paraeducator at Dutchtown Primary School and said she hates not seeing her students transition through grade levels before the summer.

I have some days that I get very emotional and I just want to cry because the kids I know need that support are the ones that are leaving,” said Perez.

With distance learning, that support might look different now. However, Anne Hindrichs, the executive director at McMains Children’s Developmental Center, said the emotional support isn’t totally gone.

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“One of the things to remember is that we’re social distancing, not social isolation,” said Hindrichs.

She reminded us that we can still reach out to friends and family to maintain those healthy relationships. Hindrichs said mindfulness in the household begins with mom and dad.

“Instilling that back to their child that we are safe, we are going to get through this is a big piece right there,” she said.

Another tip to encourage security during these uncertain times is giving your child his or her own workspace.

“That’s their space and they have control what’s in that space,” said Hindrichs.

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Hindrichs said children need routine, but that doesn’t mean we should put too much pressure on their coursework. Overall, she recommended creativity to keep the mental stress low.

“If you’re doing fractions, pull out a pizza, cut it into fourths… and study two-fourths, one-fourth, whatever based on that.”

Above all, Hindrichs encouraged communication. Help your children identify what makes them feel anxious and talk about it.

“It’s a normalcy at that point. You aren’t alone in feeling it, we all are,” she said.

She said a helpful outlet for your children to express frustration can be smashing clay, drawing pictures, or writing it out in a journal. After the pandemic ends, Hindrichs thinks your child will walk away with newfound coping skills.

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