Helping kids deal with shutdown stress

WASHINGTON – Just like their parents, kids are feeling the effects of the government shutdown.

They may not be furloughed, but Eleanor Mackey, a clinical psychologist at Childrens’ National Medical Center, says, “a lot of day cares are closed because of this and they can’t go to their normal schools.”

And, Mackey says, when a child’s routine is turned upside down, they can be left feeling anxious.

Children may not talk about their fears openly but may show signs of stress in other ways.

“Some kids complain of stomach aches or headaches. Some kids become clingy with their parents,” Mackey says.

This may be a signal that stress needs to be dealt with directly.

Mackey says letting children know their feelings make sense is actually helpful. Acknowledge the anxiety, but let them know steps have been taken to deal with the fallout from the shutdown.

It’s important to manage one’s own stress as well. Whether it’s using the time to tackle chores at home, or simply spend more time with family, Mackey says, “Showing your kids that you can cope — even in a bad situation — and that you’ll be OK and that you can handle stress is a really good message.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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