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Children Getting Clingy, Hyper? Clinical Psychologist Offers Tips For Families Shut In By Coronavirus

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It's only been a week since families have been confined at home in the effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, and many parents are wondering how they are going to go on until possibly summer.

So Dr. Karen Rogers, a clinical psychologist at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, has a few tips for how parents can weather this unprecedented shutdown with their kids underfoot.

"It's a huge change for kids and it came very unexpectedly, so nobody's had a chance to prepare or anticipate that this was gonna be happening, and that can cause a lot of anxiety and stress for both children and families," Dr. Rogers said.

She said that parents should watch out for young children becoming more irritable, demanding, hyper or clingy.

"Those kinds of behaviors are really a reflection that they really are trying to cope with the changes that they are experiencing in their daily lives," Dr. Rogers said.

The best thing parents can do is to actively listen to their children and their concerns.

"Particularly young children don't have the experience and context to understand what's happening," she said. "They have sort of unexpected misunderstandings like, 'is my school still there?' and 'are my friends still there? Are they still my friends?'"

Just being understood is a very powerful relief for anyone, child or adult, Dr. Rogers said.

And parents struggling to find structure should give themselves a break.

"When we think about structure, we think about like an hourly schedule with specific things on different hours, like a school day schedule is very structured," she said. "But for younger children particularly, we can think about structure in big blocks of time. So, morning time, afternoon time, we do different things in those chunks of our time.

"And some children, really, they break up their day in terms of what time is snack, what time is lunch, what time is nap," Dr. Rogers continued. "Keeping those things consistent really provides structure for them that's very helpful."

Keeping a consistent routine for children, teens and adults alike will help everyone get through this time, she said.

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