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Preparing kids for post-COVID routine | Wear The Gown

Experts say getting them back into a routine is a must right now.

SAN ANTONIO — While the school year is just ending, one University Health psychiatrist says parents need to start preparing their children for in-person classes this fall.

Preparing for the fall involves two main things: Getting back into a routine and getting back into health.

As for health, that can mean getting rid of extra weight that many, including us adults too, have picked up over the last year. "I think one of the most difficult things for kids returning to school is going to be getting used to structure and routine," said Dr. Bridget Bailey who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with University Health and Director of the Child and Adolescent Residency Program and Professor of Psychiatry at UT Health San Antonio. 

She says don't wait until the school year to start returning to a normal sleep routine. Dr. Bailey told KENS 5, "You're trying to reverse that cycle. So, you need to do it gradually and slowly." 

So how do you do it? Dr. Bailey answered, "Start with the bedtime routine. So, that means no electronics and stuff for the last hour or two. No exercise the last hour or two. Nothing that's stimulating. You want them to have downtime. Quiet their bodies."  

Then there's the unwanted weight gain. Dr. Bailey said, "You may not fit the same clothes, or you're a lot bigger than your peers, and that makes you stand out, which kids don't want to stand out from their peers at certain ages." 

But some of it could be from getting older. Dr. Bailey said, "You hit puberty right during this time. It usually can be an uncomfortable time for kids while they're trying to adjust to their new height or the little things about their body or their voice."  

Dr. Bailey says it is easier for kids to talk about these changes with their peers in person. But with the pandemic and isolation, it has become more difficult, so it may take some time for them to get used to talking about personal issues with their friends again. 

For information on community resources for mental health for both adults and children check out University Health's Behavioral Health page here: https://www.universityhealthsystem.com/services/behavioral-health/resources

For more information about family health call (210) 358-3045. You can also find more Wear The Gown stories here.

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