There’s no doubt COVID-19 is a serious health concern. With 24/7 news coverage, shut downs, and social distancing recommendations, it’s difficult not to fall into a trap of paranoia while taking precautions to stay healthy. Even more daunting is how to remain calm and alert while helping children manage their fears about coronavirus. Below are some tips on how to approach the COVID-19 topic with children:
Help them adjust to the new normal
With school closings and cancelled social activities, the biggest challenge may be helping kids adjust to a new routine. Working from home, eLearning, and no playdates can be confusing for children of all ages, so it’s helpful to establish structure to your days. “It’s tricky because how to adjust will vary from family to family. You have to decide what works best for you,” states LifeStance Health CEO Adam Russo.
Children react to how you say things, whether it be directly to them or through your conversations with others. Remain positive and calm in all of your interactions. Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you need help with anxiety or keeping yourself emotionally available to your children, consider therapy.
Your children need your full attention, so make sure they know you have time to talk. Listen without dismissing any fears that come up and acknowledge their feelings out loud. Help them understand facts rather than rumors if appropriate.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on the media
With families spending the majority of their time inside, make sure to reduce the amount of screen time focused on coronavirus. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety for both children and adults.
Teach children healthy habits without focusing on coronavirus
Hand washing, staying away from people who are sick, sneezing into a tissue…you know the rules. Teach them to your kids as lifelong, everyday habits without focusing on the current pandemic.
Remember, you play an important role in helping your kids make sense of what they hear, so please be as honest and accurate as possible. Please know there are resources available during this time of uncertainty. If you need counseling to help you or your family manage, reach out to LifeStance Health for an immediate in-person or Telehealth appointment.