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Psychologist says parents should monitor kids’ mental health, give accurate information on virus

Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital

It's been more than a week since schools closed in most of the state in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. A local pediatric psychologist recommends families keep an eye on children’s mental health during a very trying time.

Parents and caregivers are trying to fill the empty hours for kids now that there’s no school, no playdates, no athletics, no going to the mall. Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital pediatric psychologist Anne Reagan advises families to monitor a child’s mental health attitude in what can be a very scary time.

"Talk to the kids, and ask them what questions they have.” Reagan said. “And ask them what things they're thinking about, what they’ve heard. When we don’t provide children with accurate information, they will still seek it out, and the worry is they’ll seek it out from sources that are not accurate and more fearful.”

Reagan said instead of letting kids go to their friends or log on websites that might not be appropriate, it’s better that parents pass along information that is accurate.

"Access to social media and the news coverage really should be monitored, based on the kids ages, even up to teenagers, just because they're not sure what everything means, so their minds go off in directions,” Reagan said. 

Other suggestions for families; keep a schedule, and have serious discussions away from children, who can pick up on parents’ stresses and fears.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.