Parents and teachers will play an important role in helping children make sense of the changes occurring due to the coronavirus pandemic. We need to work together to discuss coronavirus disease in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear. Try to keep information simple and remind them that health and school officials are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Here are a few tips from CDC to keep in mind:
Remain calm and reassuring
- Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
Make yourself available to listen and to talk
- Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma
- Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online
- Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
Provide information that is honest and accurate
- Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
Changes in daily routines can be stressful for everyone. Use this time to:
Reinforce healthy habits
- Teach children to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Explain how germs can spread and remind them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, then throw the tissue into the trash.
- Invite kids to help choose and prepare healthy meals. Be sure to include lots of whole grains, fresh fruit and veggies (canned and frozen count too!) and other nutrient-dense foods.
Focus on self-care
One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to do things that you enjoy. Sometimes these are individual pastimes and sometimes they involve others. Here’s a short list of some healthy self-care activities to add to your routine:
- Meditate for a short time every day
- Start a hobby like crafting, drawing, or cooking
- Read a book
- Start a journal
- Listen to music
- Family game night
- Do strength training together
Stay active and try new activities
When kids are out of school—for any reason—parents and caregivers often need activities and resources to keep kids moving and learning. Here are a few ideas to help you prepare: