Uncertainty, fear, and staying at home more to slow the spread of the infection can make it tough for families to keep a sense of calm. It’s important to keep healthy routines, help children feel safe, manage their emotions, and build resilience. Below are some tips to help your family get through the stress of the pandemic.
Address Children’s Fears
Children depend on their parents for safety, physically and emotionally. Assure your children that you are there for them and that your family will get through this together.
- Answer questions about the pandemic simply & honestly
Talk with children about any frightening news they hear. It is okay to say that there are people who get sick but reminds them that following safety protocols like wearing cloth face coverings, hand washing, and staying home more will help your family stay healthy.
- Recognize your child’s feelings
Calmly talk with your children. Guiding questions can help older children and teens work through issues.
- Keep in touch with loved ones
Children may also worry about a grandparent who is living alone or a friend with an increased risk of getting the coronavirus disease. When safe, physically distanced visits aren’t possible, video chats can help ease their anxiety.
- Model how to manage feelings
Talk through how you are managing your feelings. Share with them what you did or what you are doing for you to be able to cope with your feelings.
- 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
Tell them that the health experts are working hard to figure out how to help people who get sick, how to prevent it, and that things will get better.
Keep Healthy Routines
During the pandemic, it is more important than ever to maintain bedtime and other routines. They create a sense of order to the day that offers reassurance in a very uncertain time. All children benefit from routines that are predictable yet flexible enough to meet individual needs.
Structure the day
With the usual routines thrown off, establish new daily schedules. Break up schoolwork when possible. Older children and teens can help with schedules, but they should follow a general order, such as:
- Wake-up routines
- Getting dressed
- Some active play in the morning that is followed by quiet play and snack to transition into schoolwork
- Have some online social time with friends
- Family time
- Reading before bed
As parents, you must also take care of yourself physically. Eat healthily, get enough sleep and exercise. Look for ways to decompress and take breaks. If more than one parent is in your home, take turns watching the children if possible. Also, if you can’t handle things anymore don’t hesitate to seek help. You can call your trusted relative or friend so that you can share with them what you’re going through.