Fear, uncertainty, and being quarantined to slow the spread of COVID-19 can make it tough for families to keep a sense of calm. But it is important to help children feel safe, keep healthy routines, manage their behavior, and build resilience. Here are some tips from the American Academy (AAP) to help your family through this pandemic.
Address Children’s Fears
- Children rely on their parents for both physical and emotional safety. Reassure your children that you are there for them and that your family will get through this together.
- Answer questions about the pandemic simply and honestly. Talk with your children about any frightening news they hear. It is OK to say people are getting sick, but also tell them that following rules like hand washing and staying home will help your family stay healthy.
- Recognize your child’s feelings. For example, you could say “I can see that you are upset because you can’t have your friends over.” Guiding questions can help older children and teens work through issues. You could say something like “I know it is disappointing not to be able to hang with your friends right now. How do you think you can stay in touch with them?”
- Keep in touch with loved ones. Children may also worry about a grandparent who is living alone or a relative or friend with an increased risk of getting COVID-19. Video chats can help ease their anxiety.
- Model how to manage feelings. Talk through how you are managing your own feelings. You could say something like “I am worried about Grandma since I can’t go visit her. The best I can do is to check in with her more often by phone. I will put a reminder on my phone to call her in the morning and the afternoon until this outbreak ends.”
- Tell your child before you leave the house for work or essential errands. In a calm and reassuring voice, tell them where you are going, how long you will be gone, when you will return, and that you are taking steps to stay safe.
- Look forward to the future. Tell them that scientists are working hard to figure out how to help people who get sick, and that things will get better.
- Offer extra hugs and tell your children that you love them often.
Keep Healthy Routines
During the pandemic, it is more important than ever to maintain bedtime and other routines. These routines create a sense of order that offer reassurance in a very uncertain time. Children of all ages (teens included) benefit from routines that are predictable yet flexible enough to meet individual needs.
Structure your day and establish new daily schedules. Break up schoolwork when possible. Older children and teens can help with schedules, but the schedule should follow a general order including the following:
- Morning: wake-up routines, getting dressed, breakfast, active play, quiet play, snack, and schoolwork.
- Mid-Day: Lunch, chores, exercise, online social time with friends, and homework in the afternoon.
- Night: Family time & reading before bed.
Parenting in a pandemic is unprecedented. This time period where stress, anxiety, and depression are increasing, Celebration Pediatrics is here to support you. Please give our office a call with any questions or concerns at 407-566-9700.
Source American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020)