Families around the world including children are adapting to the changing habits of everyday life caused by COVID-19 pandemic. Most classrooms, public meeting areas, and non-essential businesses are closed. Parents and other caregivers face the challenge of helping their families adapt to the new normal. This includes helping to keep kids busy, staying safe, and keeping up with schoolwork as best as possible. None of this is easy, but it helps keep a focus on what’s possible to improve a sense of control and reassure kids that they’re all right and that the situation will get better.
Many parents are searching for advice about how best to help their children deal with the coronavirus pandemic. With the continually changing situation, the daily news that people are becoming sick and that many children cannot continue their everyday lives is a very challenging time for families and children in COVID-19.
Coping with children in COVID-19: Tips and resources
It’s important to note that every child is different and that everyone should respond in their own way, Svobodny said. Caregivers who know their child best will also play an important role in identifying and responding to that child’s needs. Try the following when coping with children in COVID-19:
1. Encourage spending time with friends
Your child wants to spend quality time with friends to feel connected and encouraged. Your child is likely to have more free time to do so than usual. The best way for your child to communicate to or play with others during the COVID-19 pandemic is by video or phone calls. Older kids would prefer to text or play video games with friends. This could require a temporary loss of your child’s daily screen time rule. Just be sure that you continue to ensure quality screen time by previewing your child’s games, using parental controls as required, and monitoring your child’s online activities. For communications without screens, children in COVID-19 can send letters or drawings to each other.
2. Children in COVID-19 take their cues from parents, caregivers, and adults in their live
Children in COVID-19 can feel stress and tension from their parents even though they are unspeakable, and they often model the behavior of adults in their lives. When you interact with children, pay attention to your own thoughts and emotions, and make time for your own self-care. Teach the children to identify and recognize their emotions and learn coping skills together. In this process, parents should lead by example by peacefully expressing their own emotions and talking to children in COVID-19 about how they deal with stress.
3. Be open and honest
Keep up to date with the facts, but care about your child’s age before sharing information with them. Children of all ages are going to need different answers. Keep it easy and clear for young children and provide more detailed information for older children and teens.
It’s important to remind kids that although they might catch the virus, it’s unlikely they’re going to get sick. Tell them that once they feel ill, it’ll be like the cold they’ve previously experienced. They might have a fever, cough, runny nose, or a sore throat and get sick for a few days or a week, and they’ll get better. It’s okay to tell kids that adults are more likely to get sick, especially if they’re elderly or have a medical problem. Let them know that most of the techniques they see in the community, such as hand washing and social distancing, are aimed to help support the most vulnerable. They’re going to protect others by doing these things.
4. Invite your kids to talk with you about their thoughts and feelings
This is an easy task for some children in COVID-19. It’s harder for some others.
Fight the temptation to tell the children how they should feel right now. Instead, tune in to the emotions of your children.
For example, many high school students are worried about the impact that COVID-19 would have on the rest of their academic year and major milestone events, including proms, graduation, and college enrollment. By making an effort to understand what’s going on in their world, you have the opportunity to work with them in these uncertain waters.
5. Monitor Television Viewing and Social Media
Parents should monitor TV, the internet, and social media—both for themselves and their children. Watching continuous updates to COVID-19 can increase fear and anxiety. Developmentally improper data or documents made for adults will also cause distress or uncertainty, particularly in young children in COVID-19.
Dispel rumors and misleading information. Tell your child that many reports about COVID-19 on the Internet may contain rumors and incorrect facts. In particular, older adolescents will have access to a great deal of information online and from friends with inaccuracies. Speak to your child about the details of the disease.
Provide alternatives to this. Instead, involve your child in games or other fun sports.
6. Seek daily purpose
Spending time on things of value can give your child the structure and purpose of the day. This will help your child deal with a change in his or her routine.
Your child may find meaning by:
- Playing music
- Making videos
- Planting a garden
- Or creating something
Encourage the unique creativity of your kid. Consider organizing a talent show on a video conferencing site to motivate your kid. Invite relatives or friends of your child. Older kids might like to discuss a subject they’re passionate about and share what they’ve discovered with friends.
7. Adopting a pet
Finally, whether you have time, space, and budget, research shows that having a pet will help protect children from feelings of depression and social isolation. Pets provide children with comfort, a sense of responsibility, and social support to make them feel positive about themselves. They may also have an affectionate and non-judgmental relationship with pets.
8. Children need to hear a message that they’re safe and secure
Although children in COVID-19 can hear worrying about discussions between parents, the media, and friends. Parents and caregivers should reassure children by explaining how the family promotes safety, such as practicing good hand washing, exercising, consuming healthier foods, and avoiding big group gatherings.
The Bottom line
Your child cannot control the current need for social distance. But your child will control the way he or she tries to deal with the circumstances. By encouraging your child to communicate with others, to share their thoughts, and find an everyday target, you can help them deal with the pandemic’s loneliness. Working through this task may also contribute to your child’s personal growth and better train him or her to overcome future barriers.