Colorado children are experiencing ‘return to normalcy’ anxiety

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the number of kids under the age of 13 who are in dire need of urgent mental health care is skyrocketing.

Metro-area doctors are urging parents in Colorado to pay attention their child’s behavior right now, even if you think they’re fine. 

Especially when it comes to their anxiety as things slowly start to return to normal at this point in the pandemic.

“As adults we have to understand that kids thrive on this regular occurrence, this regular understanding of what their days and their routine look like. And what we’re having now is it’s almost this counterintuitive sense that we’re sort of getting back to standard things – and it’s disruptive,” explained Dr. Justin Ross, a clinical psychologist at UCHealth.

According to data from the CDC, between April and October of 2020, during the height of the pandemic, there was a 24% increase in the number of mental health emergency visits for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 (compared to the same time frame in 2019).

While this can be a confusing time for adults, experts at UCHealth say it can be even more confusing for kids.

Doctors say big transitions, like a ‘return to normalcy’, are more challenging for children given how they don’t process moods and emotions the same way adults do.

That’s something psychologists say can often times be overlooked by parents.

“I think they understand it in terms of they can feel it and they can sense it, but often with kids it comes out as irritability. So it sort of comes out as they blow up or they have a tantrum over something that seems so inconsequential. And that part I think can be frustrating for parents. But often times that sense of irritability is coming from something else,” Dr. Ross said.

Experts at UCHealth say it’s important for parents to understand when a kid’s daily routine is thrown off, they’ll likely respond with frustration.

Which is why psychologists suggest asking open ended questions to your child just to get a conversation started and to get a better understanding of what’s impacting their mood.

They say it’s also important for parents to realize the feelings their child is having are completely normal.

After all, anxiety is a human condition that we all experience in some form or fashion and kids are not immune to it.

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