COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, continues to spread and affect life as we know it. There is no denying that this upheaval of our everyday lives and routines has been difficult on even the most adaptable adults. There is a lot of anxiety and fear about what could happen and how it could affect every one of us. Many adults have the skills needed to de-catastrophize scary thoughts or utilize coping skills when experiencing extreme stress. Children however do not necessarily have these skills. Any anxiety or fear felt by a parent or caregiver, these feelings are usually felt by the children in their care as well. Not only are they feeling what the adults are feeling, but they also may not understand some of the scientific words being used about the virus or what a pandemic is. All of these things can add to a child’s stress, on top of no longer being at school or following their routine can create a really difficult scenario. I have gathered below a few resources for parents as well as tips on how to best help children during this difficult and unprecedented time.
Talking to your child about COVID-19:
It is important at this time for parents and caregivers to remain safe and reassuring figures to children. Children can pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues of stress and anxiousness in adults and will benefit from extra reassurance and care during this time. If your child is school age, their schedule and routine have been disrupted and they most likely have already heard of this “sickness” going around. Because of this, it will be beneficial for parents to sit down with children face to face and help them understand some of what is going on. When explaining what the coronavirus does the following:
- Do remain calm and if needed use your coping skills before the conversation to be in the right state of mind
- Allow the child to ask questions and make yourself available for them if they need to talk later
- To provide age-appropriate information (see below for more resources on this)
- Limit your child’s access to news channels that may be spreading exaggerated or fear-based information
- Do talk to your child about how to stay healthy and encourage hand washing and other hygienic habits
Read more at the CDC’s website or from this article published by the National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of School Psychologists on how to talk to your children about COVID-19.
How to explain COVID-19 to your child:
There are many resources available on how to talk to your child about the novel coronavirus. Below are some resources broken down by age:
- Ages 3-10: This workbook is great for children who want to know more about the virus or for parents to use to explain the virus to children. The workbook is a cartoon of the virus sharing information about “itself”. Included are different coloring and drawing activities as well as child-appropriate tips to stay healthy and safe.
- Ages 11-18: This worksheet from the department of health and environmental control is appropriate for older children and teenagers to look through to better understand COVID-19 and basic ways to stay healthy.
- Ages 16-Adult: The CDC has published this worksheet titled “What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It can be helpful for both young adults and older adults or parents to read through this worksheet to know the facts.
This is a confusing and stressful time for many people in the world, parents especially. Remember to maintain your coping skills and find a routine that works for your family. If you are finding that you are experiencing extreme stress and struggling to get through your day, counseling can still be available to you through telehealth. If you are located in Florida, we can help you, by providing therapy to you in the comfort and safety of your home, through telehealth. You can schedule an appointment for you and/or your children directly through our website.
Stay safe and keep washing your hands!