The evolving coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is unsettling for us all. The news coverage can be overwhelming for parents and frightening to kids. It is natural that our children are also going to have questions and concerns. Despite the uncertainty about the coronavirus, there are many ways that we can help one another promote wellness and cope with stress at this time.
Don’t Be Afraid to Discuss Coronavirus. Our children are always listening - to what other children say, to what their parents discuss at dinner or what news is on in the background. Not talking about something can actually make kids worry more. Take the time to talk to your children and answer their questions honestly.
Simple Reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
Remind Them of What They Can Do. This is a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help keep their family and community safe: washing their hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, avoid touching their face, and social distancing. To maintain health and reduce stress, encourage them to eat well, get enough sleep, and get exercise.
Stick to a Routine. Change and uncertainty are always challenging. Staying rooted in routines and predictability can provide a sense of security. While you don’t have to stick to a strict schedule, structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping kids happy and healthy. Include schoolwork, reading, arts and crafts, outdoor play, family time, screen time, and maintain consistency.
Be a Good Role Model. Adults should model behavior that will encourage their children and show that we will get through this together. From hand washing, to going outdoors, to eating well - all of the tips for children apply to adults as well. If you notice that you are feeling anxious, take time to calm yourself before trying to have a conversation or answer your child’s questions. When you demonstrate compassion, empathy, kindness and patience, your children will learn by example.
Watch for Signs of Anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines. Keep lines of communication open so they will know they can reach out to you if they need help.
Capital Area Pediatrics is here to help you navigate these unchartered waters. If your child is exhibiting some worries, anxiety or sadness, we are happy to schedule a telemedicine consult during the coronavirus pandemic to discuss and troubleshoot your concerns. If talking with us seems like the best next step, find the nearest location, or request an appointment as needed.