Stay Calm & Positive
– Be a role model. Children will react to and follow your reactions. They learn from your example.
– Be aware of how you talk about COVID-19. Your discussion about COVID-19 can increase or decrease your child’s fear. If true, remind your child that your family is healthy, and you are going to do everything within your power to keep loved ones safe and well. Carefully listen or have them draw or write out their thoughts and feelings and respond with truth and reassurance.
– Explain social distancing. Children probably don’t fully understand why parents/guardians aren’t allowing them to be with friends.
– Demonstrate deep breathing. Deep breathing is a valuable tool for calming the nervous system. Do breathing exercises with your children.
– Focus on the positive. Celebrate having more time to spend as a family. Make it as fun as possible. Do family projects. Organize belongings, create masterpieces. Sing, laugh, and go outside, if possible, to connect with nature and get needed exercise. Allow older children to connect with their friends virtually.
– Establish and maintain a daily routine. Keeping a regular schedule provides a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being. It also helps children and other family members respect others’ need for quiet or uninterrupted time and when they can connect with friends virtually.
– Identify projects that might help others. This could include: writing letters to the neighbors or others who might be stuck at home alone or to healthcare workers; sending positive messages over social media; or reading a favorite children’s book on a social media platform for younger children to hear.
– Offer lots of love and affection.
– Parents/guardians should monitor television, internet, and social media viewing.
– Dispel rumors and inaccurate information. Explain to your child that many stories about COVID-19 on the internet may include rumors and inaccurate information.
– Provide alternatives. Engage your child in games or other exciting activities instead.
– Let your children’s questions guide you. Answer their questions truthfully, but don’t offer unnecessary details or facts. Don’t avoid giving them the information that experts indicate as crucial to your children’s well-being. Often, children and youth do not talk about their concerns because they are confused or don’t want to worry loved ones. Younger children absorb scary information in waves. They ask questions, listen, play, and then repeat the cycle. Children always feel empowered if they can control some aspects of their life. A sense of control reduces fear.
Stay honest and accurate
– Correct misinformation. Children often imagine situations worse than reality; therefore, offering developmentally appropriate facts can reduce fears.
– Explain simple safety steps. Tell your child this disease spreads between people who are in close contact with one another, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or when one touches infected objects or surfaces.
– Stay up-to-date on the facts.
Stay connected to school
– Locate learning resources. Schools’ capacity to conduct virtual learning experiences will vary greatly, but most schools are providing lessons and learning activities for children to do. Take advantage of the many companies and online platforms currently offering free learning opportunities.
– Identify additional resources. Know if your school or district is providing additional resources, such meals, or technology, such as a laptop or tablet.
– Stay in touch. Find out how the school is communicating with families and students. Be sure to read any communications you receive. Check with you children, particularly older ones, as they may be receiving information directly that would be helpful for you to know.
– Connect with school staff. Reach out to your child’s teacher and other relevant school staff if you have concerns about their coping and keeping up with assignments or activities.
Practice daily good hygiene. Encourage your child to practice these simple steps to prevent spreading the virus.
– Wash your hands multiple times a day for 20 seconds.
– Compliment your children when they use a Kleenex or sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow. Teach them the importance of throwing away used tissues immediately after sneezing or coughing.
– Sadly, handshakes and hugs need to be limited to immediate family members, at least for now.
– Foster a sense of control. Offering guidance on what your child/children can do.