In these past few weeks, we have all experienced some form of anxiety, stress or worry as COVID-19 continues to unfold. While they may not show it in obvious ways, our children are also experiencing these emotions. According to the CDC, children and teens have a higher risk of experiencing stress-related symptoms in the midst of a crisis situation. As parents and caregivers, we want to equip you with resources to help you provide the best support to your kiddos at home.
See our top ten tips to help you provide continued care for your children as we walk through a season of uncertainty and navigate this ‘new normal.’ We hope these suggestions lead to healthy conversations among your family and boost your child’s physical and emotional well-being!
- Be a role model: As caregivers, it is of extreme importance that you are first taking measures to ensure your own mental health and well-being. Your children are watching, and they are likely absorbing your emotions. It’s certainly OK to express feelings with our children, but we should aim to remain calm and strong throughout our interactions.
- Don’t ignore, discuss: Research shows that children and teens are more likely to worry when information is withheld from them. The heavy presence of news, the absence of normal activities and increased mask-wearing have certainly caught your child’s attention. Your child will feel more at ease if they’re informed and have assurance through an open line of communication.
- Acknowledge and reassure: Reassure your children that they are safe. These are uncertain times for families and citizens across the nation, and it is important that your children feel comfortable and able to share their feelings in a healthy manner. Use this Life Skills Expressing Feelings Worksheet as a framework to help your children express their feelings and open the door to meaningful conversations.
- Demonstrate deep breathing: Engage your children with simple and fun breathing exercises! Deep breathing decreases stress, increases calmness and reduces tension. If you want to take it a step further, participate in an online yoga course with your children. See the link below for daily online yoga classes suitable for children.
- Stay active and engaged: While our children are unable to attend their regular sports and activities, there are many creative at-home activities to keep your child busy. Jumping rope, sidewalk chalk, arts & crafts, and baking are just a few ideas to occupy your children during quarantine.
- Encourage and uplift: Completing schoolwork and homework assignments from home is a challenging task for most students. Offering encouragement and praise for your child’s work increases confidence levels and empowers your children to continue their at-home assignments.
- Create a routine and stick with it: A lack of structure increases levels of anxiety and stress. Treat this time away from normal routine similar to an extended vacation. Ensure that your children are getting an adequate amount of sleep and block off specific time for schoolwork, outdoor activities, and regular mealtimes.
- Connect with others: Create a time and space to allow your children to connect virtually with their schoolmates, friends or relatives. Explain social distancing and that we must follow the guidelines outlined by health officials to ensure the safety and protection of those we care about.
- Serve those in need: Write letters to neighbors and friends who are also stuck inside their homes. Draw pictures to give to the elderly or drop off encouragement cards for local healthcare workers. Include your child in a project to buy or order groceries for a friend or neighbor in need of assistance during this time.
- Stay positive: Your children will follow your lead. Sing songs, take nature walks, have dance parties, and play games! Let’s not take for granted the extra time we get to share with those we love.
- Child Mind Institute: How to Help Children Manage Fears
- NASP: Talking to Kids About the CoronaVirus
- PBS: How You and Your Kids Can De-Stress During Coronavirus
- Sesame Street in Communities: Exploring Emotions
- Zero To Three: Answering Your Young Child’s Questions About Coronavirus
- Yoga Garden: Daily online yoga classes
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