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Ways to keep children happy and healthy while learning from home

Virtual students may experience more anxiety, stress and weight gain, doctor says.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Columbia doctor says children that are learning from home may be experiencing more anxiety, stress and weight gain.

"Most children I’ve spoken to that are completely virtual, are struggling and not happy,"  Dr. Deborah Greenhouse said. Greenhouse is a pediatrician with Prisma Health and the Palmetto Pediatric Adolescent Clinic. She's also a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

She says many students are facing physical and mental health problems due to social isolation and sitting in front of a screen all day.

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"We’re seeing a lot of increase in anxiety, social isolation and stress. We’re also seeing lots of kids come in with hand and wrist pain because they’re sitting at a computer all day. I had three of those [patients] this morning," Greenhouse said.

The pediatrician says they're also seeing at-home students gain more weight than usual because they’re sitting in front of the computer and not exercising.

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"If you’re sitting in front of a screen all day, you’ve got to make sure you’re getting up, moving around, getting exercise everyday," Greenhouse advised. Some examples she gave were going for a walk with the family, swimming or putting on some music and dancing.

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Greenhouse also said healthy eating habits and getting down a solid sleep schedule are crucial. But most importantly, she said, parents and kids should give themselves some grace: "This is the year we're going to say, 'it’s not going to be perfect' and that’s okay."