by Chansoma Yen
Families across the country are adapting to the growing changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most schools, places of public gathering, and nonessential businesses are closed, and parents face helping their families adjust to the new normal. This includes trying to keep children occupied, feeling safe, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible. Therefore, teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety. Some of the following tips can help.
Be a role model: Children will react to and follow your reactions. They learn from your example.
Be aware of how you talk about COVID-19: Your discussion about COVID-19 can increase or decrease your child’s fear. If true, remind your child that your family is healthy, and you are going to do everything within your power to keep loved one’s safe and well. Carefully listen or have them draw or write out their thoughts and feelings and respond with truth and reassurance.
Explain social distancing: Children probably don’t fully understand why parents/guardians aren’t allowing them to be with friends. Social distancing means staying away from others until the risk of contracting COVID-19 is under control.
Demonstrate deep breathing: Deep breathing is a valuable tool for calming the nervous system. Do breathing exercises with your children.
Focus on the positive: Celebrate having more time to spend as a family. Make it as fun as possible. Do family projects, organize belongings, sing, laugh, and go outside, if possible, with safety procedures, to connect with nature and get needed exercise. Allow older children to connect with their friends virtually.
Establish and maintain a daily routine: Keeping a regular schedule provides a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being. It also helps children and other family members respect others’ need for quiet or uninterrupted time and when they can connect with friends virtually.