With each passing day, we are faced with more changes to our daily lives due to COVID-19. Most schools have closed and workplaces are urging employees to work remotely. Parents and their children are home together for days on end. It’s a far cry from normal and we are all struggling with this new reality. Being a parent during these times is particularly challenging, as we try to navigate this uncharted territory.
Here are some tips to help you support your children through the COVID-19 crisis.
Validate and Normalize
Kids may express a whole range of responses to learning about COVID-19. It’s important to normalize their reactions, whatever they may be. Some kids may act out, seem irritable, or become sad or anxious, while others may be excited to be home from school. Find a time when your kids are not preoccupied with another activity, and ask them how they are feeling. Reassure them that their emotions are valid and that they will be okay without denying the reality of the situation. And remember, be aware of how you are talking about Covid-19, your kids are always listening and absorbing information
Share information appropriately
We want to give information that is accurate and age appropriate. Be factual but brief. Leave room for questions and tell your children that the conversation is always open. Be mindful about how often and how much detail you share about COVID-19 while your children are around. They are listening and often can misinterpret what is being said. Limit consumption of the news and social media in front of your kids. While it is completely understandable for parents to feel anxious right now, kids feed off of your anxiety and are absorbing what you share. For more suggestions visit the CDC child information website.
Maintain a daily structure
Virus or no virus, establishing and maintaining routines and structure plays an important role in helping children thrive. Kids might equate having time off from school with being on vacation, so gently explain to them the difference. Create a schedule with your children to help them feel a sense of control. Offer reminders before switching to a new activity to help them transition between tasks. Sample schedules can be found online and aim for a balance between academic and play time. They also suggest consistent times for waking up in the morning, bathing, eating, and going to sleep. Make sure you also include exercise, which is particularly important for children’s physical and mental health.
Find opportunities to try new activities
Staying at home with your family for days on end can make anyone want some distance. It is absolutely normal to find it difficult to be in each other’s space all the time. While trying to carve out personal space and time for yourself, which can feel especially difficult, find ways to connect with your loved ones at home by trying new activities you always wanted to do but somehow fell by the wayside. Do art projects, bake and decorate cookies, learn a new game, throw a family dance party, or watch a family movie.
Help kids stay connected
Being social is a key part of regulating how we feel. To help kids stay connected with their friends while stuck at home, we recommend they video chat with their friends and relatives with apps like FaceTime and Skype. Get creative! Create a group video session with your extended family. Have kids do an activity together in their respective homes while connected through a video app. Rediscover snail-mail and have kids write letters to family and friend or send them individualized cards with drawings.
Take care of yourself
As parents, we always want to make sure our children are okay. To do that, we also need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves as well. We’re not effective when we don’t attend to our own needs. Take turns with your significant other so you each get a break and some time for self-care. Also, remember there is no such thing as the perfect parent and we’re all working to adapt to this new reality.
Click here for a list of some more online sites and activities for your children.
Anxiety is the disorder of “what ifs.” It makes it difficult to tolerate uncertainty and the unknown. When we are anxious, we catastrophize, and look for the worst-case scenario. We tend to exaggerate the sense of risk which makes bad situations feel worse. Without the ability to predict the future, anxiety makes us overestimate the likelihood of bad things happening.
Then we’re stuck with fear and emotional discomfort. Anxiety makes you desperate for a solution, so you can feel better. Anxiety makes you overthink, over-plan, and engage in activities that aren’t actually helpful, just so you can feel back in control. We excessively worry, engage in compulsive behaviors and avoid anything that triggers our anxiety, all to feel better. In the short term, it feels like this helps, but ultimately, we are locked in a repetitive cycle of feeling anxious and trying to escape it.
Now enters the Covid-19 pandemic. Life as we know it has been turned upside down and it feels impossible to predict what is to come. As we stop going to work, school, or engaging in our daily routines, the structure of normal life is disrupted and we lose our sense of control. This is the perfect environment for our anxiety to grow. You may have more anxious thoughts: “When will this end? How long will I be home? Do I have the virus? Will I give it to someone else?” You may also engage in anxious behaviors like frequently checking the news, repeatedly checking your temperature, or buying food in unreasonable amounts.
We want to emphasize that it is completely natural to feel worried and scared. After all, anxiety is a survival instinct and can be healthy when it is proportional to the situation. COVID-19 is a threat to our physical, emotional and economic health and we want to be appropriately cautious and responsive. Without a little anxiety, we likely wouldn’t be taking the appropriate steps to combat this virus! That being said, we want to make it appropriate to the situation. Excessive worrying might feel productive, but it is actually harming your emotional well-being, and can interfere with your ability to think clearly and act responsibly during this crisis.
So, what do we do in response to anxiety felt about COVID-19?
Cognitive Behavioral Psychology of New York (CBPNY) is an independent clinical psychology private practice with offices conveniently located in NYC and Scarsdale, NY. CBPNY is currently looking to fill positions for postdoctoral fellows to see patients in both its offices. CBPNY provides the flexibility of private practice with the support of a collaborative team, weekly supervision meetings, and additional training opportunities. We also offer excellent compensation, retirement plan options, and flexible hours, as well as the opportunity to continue in a group private practice setting once licensed.
All applicants should be trained in cognitive behavioral therapy and have experience in treating children and adults. Patient populations include children, adolescent and adults with anxiety, O-C spectrum, mood and ADHD diagnoses. Patient work includes direct individual treatment as well as working collaboratively with family members, with other professionals across disciplines, and engaging in outside consultation with schools as needed. The candidate will be providing psycho-educational assessments as well. Applicants are being sought for two positions: one with an immediate start date as well as a position to begin at the end of the completion of internship in 2019.
Please send a cover letter, resume, and list of 3 references via email to email@example.com if interested.
Cognitive Behavioral Psychology of New York (CBPNY) is an independent clinical psychology private practice with offices conveniently located in NYC and Scarsdale, NY. CBPNY is currently looking to fill positions for licensed psychologists to see patients in either or both of its offices. CBPNY provides the flexibility of private practice with the support of a collaborative team, weekly supervision meetings, and additional training opportunities. We also offer excellent compensation, retirement plan options, and flexible hours.
All applicants should be trained in cognitive behavioral therapy and have experience in treating children and adults. Patient populations include children, adolescent and adults with anxiety, O-C spectrum, mood and ADHD diagnoses. Patient work includes direct individual treatment as well as working collaboratively with family members, with other professionals across disciplines, and engaging in outside consultation with schools as needed. The candidate will be providing psycho-educational assessments as well. Both part-time and full-time positions are available.
Please send a cover letter, resume, and list of 3 references via email to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Dr. Dena Rabinowitz will be teaching two days of the CBT training institute at Adelphi University this July. Her workshops, “An Introduction of CBT Skills for Psychodynamic Professionals” and “CBT and Anxiety Disorders” will provide information on the fundamentals of CBT including case conceptualization and treatment for anxiety disorders. For more information on the summer institute, please click here. If you are interested in having Dr. Rabinowitz present or develop a lecture or workshop on any of the areas of specialization at CBPNY, please contact us at email@example.com or call us at 212-873-0163.
We are excited to announce that Dr. Agnes Selinger is returning to Cognitive Behavioral Psychology of NY (CBPNY) after a two-year hiatus. Dr. Selinger did her post-doctoral training at CBPNY and then was a valuable member of our team for several years. She recently pursued additional training, expanding her CBT skills, as well as intensive training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). We are happy to welcome her back to CBPNY where she will be providing cognitive behavioral therapies for young children, adolescents, and adults. She has extensive experience providing exposure and response prevention to individuals suffering from obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders, as well as treating generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, depression, selective mutism, school refusal, body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding, trichotillomania, Tourette’s and ADHD.
Dr. Selinger earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Hofstra University’s combined clinical and school psychology program, as well as an additional master’s degree in psychology from New York University. She completed her pre-doctoral clinical internship at the Southwestern Vermont Consortium, which included outpatient rotations providing individual and group therapy to clients of all ages. While there, she also provided individual treatment and parent training for children who participated in Head Start and conducting neuropsychological assessments at a memory clinic.
Other professional experiences have included an appearance on Columbia University’s radio show, “Uptown Radio.” Dr. Selinger is an active member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) and Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Selinger back to CBPNY.
The Staff at CBPNY
Dr. Dena Rabinowitz, PhD ABPP
If you have a teenager, it is likely that they are watching the new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” one of the most streamed TV shows in America right now. The controversial show features a 17-year-old girl who commits suicide; the episodes depict the events which the main character blames for her suicide. The show is very controversial in that it contains both positive and concerning elements.
On the positive side, the show addresses challenges that exist in the adolescent world today. The series allows teenagers to see that they are not the only ones feeling and experiencing difficulties during their adolescence. For parents, it is a window into what most teenagers are exposed to, if not experiencing. Many of the parents in the show are portrayed as loving and well-meaning, but they are at times oblivious to and unaware of how to effectively talk to their teens. We know that one of the best supports parents can offer their children is to have open lines of communication. The show provides parents an opportunity to start conversations about difficult and important issues like social media, bullying, drinking, depression, rape, as well as the general experience of being a teenager. Also, on the positive side, the show tries to send the ultimate message that we need to be more mindful of how we treat each other, be more kind, and offer support to others.
With these strengths, the show has some areas of concern. The show features a graphic portrayal of suicide which experts do not recommend adolescents watch given the possibility of “copycat” behavior. The show’s main character also casts blame on others for her suicide and highlights “revenge” motivations for suicide. It is important to communicate to your teen that suicide is never a way to deal with their problems, to hurt those who have hurt them, or to get attention. Suicide is also not someone else’s fault, but rather often a result of severe mental illness or an extreme stressor. Furthermore, the show demonstrates a school counselor grossly mishandling an interaction with the main character and may give the impression that adults can’t help. It is important to talk to your teen about how you and other adults are there for them and can help them if they are in pain, and can also help them find effective resources.
Whether you like the show or not, your child is most likely watching it, or already has, and therefore you should too. Use the show as an opportunity to start conversations with your teen that you might not have otherwise had. If you think your teen is in trouble, get help.
Below is a link to several talking points and resources that can help you facilitate the conversation:
“13 Reasons Why” Tallking Points
Suidice and Depression Links
NIMH Teen Depression: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/teen-depression/index.shtml
APA Teen Suicide: http://www.apa.org/research/action/suicide.aspx
Suicide Prevention Life Line: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/# - 1-800-273-8255
Trevor Noah Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now - 1-866-488-7386
Parents Teen Suicide: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/suicide.html
Depression For Parents: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/understanding-depression.html
Mayo Clinic Teen Depression: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/teen-depression/home/ovc-20164553
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_families_Pages/Teen_Suicide_10.aspx
This week, Donald J. Trump won the presidential election and secured his place as the 45th President of the United States of America. Some are struggling with disappointment, anxiety and fear, some are feeling joy, and others are feeling relief. No matter what side of the aisle you fall, most people are seeing conflict and vitriol in their environment. This can be a particularly difficult time for children. As parents, it is important to kids that we help them navigate the messages of conflict, fear, disappointment, and joy.
Make time to talk to your kids about these issues. Ask them about how they’re feeling and what they’re hearing. Allow them to express their emotions and validate that their feelings are okay, and that it is important to express your feelings.
At the same time, it is important to remind kids to be respectful of other children’s beliefs and values. It can be helpful to remind them that while they are feeling sad, others may be feeling happy, and if the results had been different, they may have been happy and others may have felt sad. It is also very important that they understand that even if we deeply disagree with someone’s values and opinions, we can do so in a manner that still upholds respect for all human beings. It is okay, and even helpful, if they can listen and talk with people with different points of view, as long as they do so with an open mind.
If they are feeling badly, fearful, disappointed, or discouraged, remind them that these issues are complex. Talk to them about the checks and balances that exist in government- and in people- and remind them of the strengths of our democracy. Inform them that after elections, people work together to unite and work hard for the people of America.
You can also remind them that every person- children included can make a difference! Their bad feelings can be clues as to what is important to them. Find out what they are upset about and help them take action by volunteering or supporting organizations in line with those causes. Taking action to express their values and make the world a better place will empower and uplift them in a way that simply expressing negative feelings against perceived opponents never will.
Finally, remember your kids are watching you and looking at you for how to respond. It is important that parents express their feelings, but make sure to do so in a way that doesn’t scare kids or make them more anxious. In addition, you should model healthy coping- make sure to attend to your emotions and take care of yourself.