The evolving changes of COVID-19 affect families around the country. Schools, non-essential businesses, churches and places of public gatherings are closed because of the pandemic. Parents and other caregivers are faced with helping their families adjust to the new normal. This is not easy, but it helps to stay focused and to reassure children that they are okay and that the situation will get better.
Children look to adults for guidance, especially during stressful events. Acknowledging some level of concern, without panicking, is appropriate and can result in taking the necessary actions that reduce the risk of illness. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety.
The following tips can help.
Stay composed, listen and be reassuring
- 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. Carefully listen or have them draw or write out their thoughts and feelings and respond with truth and reassurance.
- Explain social distancing.
- Focus on the positive. Make it as fun as possible.
- Establish and maintain a daily routine. Keeping a regular schedule provides a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being.
Keep an eye on television viewing and social media
- Consistently monitor television, internet, and social media viewing. Watching too many updates on COVID-19 may increase fear and anxiety.
- Offer alternatives such as games or other exciting activities.
Follow your children’s lead with their questions. Answer truthfully but avoid unnecessary details. Younger children take in scary information gradually. 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.
- Honesty is the best policy
- As children have vivid imaginations that make things worse then reality, correct misinformation, to reduce fears.
- Define easy safety steps. Let your child know this disease spreads between people who are in close contact with each other. A simple sneeze or cough or touch from an infected person can infect, objects or surfaces.
- Be a good listener
- For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings.
Keep connected with the school
- Locate learning resources. Schools’ capacity to conduct virtual learning experiences may vary, but most schools are providing lessons and learning activities for children to do.
- KinderCare has All Ages At-Home Learning Hub to keep your child learning and playing!
- Reach out to your child’s teacher and other relevant schools staff if you have concerns about their coping and keeping up with assignments or activities.
Good hygiene and healthy practices
- Practice good hygiene daily. Encourage your child to practice simple steps to prevent spreading the virus.
- Wash your hands multiple times a day for 20 seconds.
- Please 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.
- Build the immune system. Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly
Tune into your child’s mental health
Most children will manage well with the support of parents and other family members, even if showing signs of some anxiety or concerns, such as difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Some children, however, may have risk factors for more intense reactions. Risk factors can include a pre-existing mental health problem, prior traumatic experiences or abuse, family instability, or the loss of a loved one.
Parents and caregivers should consider contacting a professional if the child exhibits significant changes in behavior or if any of the following symptoms last for more than 2 weeks.
- Preschoolers—thumb sucking, bedwetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior, and withdrawal.
- Elementary school children—irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, poor concentration, and withdrawal from activities and friends.
- Adolescents—sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior, and poor concentration.
- Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks, https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Coping-with-Stress-During-Infectious-Disease-Outbreaks/sma14-4885
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children.html
- Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer Use at Home, at Play, and Out and About, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf
- NASP COVID-19 Resource Center, https://www.nasponline.org/COVID-19
Be assured as a first-rate and recognized daycare facility in the Jacksonville area, your child's health is of the utmost importance to T's Learning Center. We adhere to the best practice germ-fighting policies always. Together, we will get through this terrible disruption and win the battle! We miss our kids and their families so, so much!