Children deal with stress in many different ways. This is a stressful time for your children too. They are out of school, all their activities and sports have been cancelled or postponed, and they can only visit and play with their friends online. They may be afraid that they will get sick, or that something bad will happen to their parents or grandparents. They may not know how to talk about how they are feeling. And some children, especially teens, may hold their feelings inside and not express them to anyone.
Whether your children are exhibiting signs of stress or not, here are some things you should be doing to help them cope with the major changes in their lifestyle and reduce their fears.
First, talk with your child about the pandemic. Answer questions and share facts in a way that your child can understand. Reassure them that they are safe.
Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Tell them these are normal feelings that everybody has.
Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you. Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents deal with the pandemic calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.
Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage, including social media. The news and social media are dominated by the pandemic, and children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
Try to keep up with regular routines. Create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities. Go to bed and get up at the same time, and keep up regular grooming and bathing.
To help children maintain social connections while social distancing, help your children have supervised phone calls or video chats with their friends and relatives.
Encourage your children to play outdoors—it’s great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your children or go on a bike ride. Use indoor activity breaks (like stretch breaks or dance breaks) throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused.
Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
It appears we are going to be social distancing and wearing masks in public for quite some time, so if you aren't doing these things now to support your children's well-being, please start. For now, this is everyone's new normal.