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A preteen boy sits on his front porch steps with his father and gestures in frustration. His unrecognizable father puts an arm around his shoulders as they talk.

Stress and Kids: How to Help them Cope

As a new school year is upon us, parents across Hampton Roads have faced many tough decisions. Most public schools began the year with virtual classes. Many private schools opted for in-person learning, while some families have chosen to homeschool. These are not easy scenarios for many working and non-working families who are forced to juggle additional responsibilities and stressors.

Last week, I noticed my 12-year-old showing signs of irritability. I initially wanted to chalk it up to puberty with a dash of girl sass, but instead, I took an inventory of my own stress level and realized that she’s stressed as well.

While navigating the challenges of your child's education and looking ahead toward many unknowns, it's important to remember your children may be experiencing feelings and emotions that they can't even verbalize. It’s crucial to recognize and address the stress they feel now as it can influence how they handle future stressors.

I decided that a fun way to get my daughter talking and exploring her feelings was to interview her. The interview went something like this:

Me: How did the coronavirus change your summer vacation?
Sophia: It was boring and annoying because I couldn’t go anywhere or see friends. I worried about getting sick.

Me: How does not seeing your friends or being able to go places make you feel?
Sophia: Lonely and sad, especially because I'm an only child.

Me: What is one positive thing you've experienced in quarantine?
Sophia: I am getting to spend more time with you and Daddy.

Me: What can we do to help stop the spread of the virus?
Sophia: Use lots of hand sanitizer, wear a mask, and social distance.

Me: What is one thing we could do to help someone else who is feeling lonely?
Sophia: FaceTime them!

This exercise was a fun mindfulness activity. It got my daughter talking about her feelings and helped her recognize that even during stressful times there are ways to be grateful.

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About Adrianna and Ryan Walden

About Adrianna and Ryan  Walden

Ryan and Adrianna Walden have been married for 17 years. The two met when she was working for an arena football team in Norfolk where he was playing football. Ryan is a service coordinator with the Chesapeake Early Intervention Program and Adrianna is a Licensing Specialist for Children's Programs with the Department of Education. Both enjoyed teaching CHKD’s "Happiest Baby" class together for over a decade. Together they have one daughter, who despite early health issues, is now a thriving and happy teen. The Walden's have a passion for working with children and married couples.