HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – On March 13, 2020, just as Ashley Camargo was nearing the end of her freshman year at Coral Springs High School, everything suddenly came to a halt.
“It was our last Student Government event, a big dance marathon, and it was when we were all there that we got the message that we’re not going back and we thought it was just going to be a two week Spring Break, and then it ended up being a quarantine,” she said.
Dr. Ximena Flanders, a pediatric psychologist with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, said the uncertainty of this pandemic has weighed heavily on everyone, but children and adolescents can be especially vulnerable to heightened anxiety.
“Back in March, the anxiety was kind of high, then we got comfortable being at home, feeling safe, and now we’re talking about going back to school, integrating into society and the anxiety is actually increasing,” Flanders said.
Flanders said parents need to keep an eye out for warning signs that their children are suffering from stress, which include withdrawal, irritability, sleep difficulties and changes in eating habits.
“Everybody responds to stress and anxiety differently. The important thing is to find out what is affecting you and your child both and being aware of that,” Flanders said.
Camargo is hoping she’ll be back in school before Christmas, but in the meantime her mom is helping her cope.
“I make sure she gets outside, into the sunlight and away from all the electronics,” said Vanessa Camargo.
She also encourages her daughter to always express her feelings.
“I think it’s really important to focus on letting them know they are safe, we are available and that this will pass,” Camargo said.