A: Provide children with a sense of control. Keep them informed. Get them engaged.
The basic rules:
1. Answer children’s questions in a developmentally appropriate manner (using stories or play is a great way to do this for younger children).
2. Stick to routine and schedule (this is harder to do so many months into the pandemic, but try prioritizing at least one area, such as sleep).
3. Manage your own stress and anxiety regarding the pandemic (eat, sleep, exercise, and seek help when needed).
4. Limit news (to approximately 30 minutes a day) and limit the child’s exposure to news.
5. Empower children with safe behaviors (encourage them to be germ busters: wash hands, wear a mask, distance from others, and stay home when they can).
6. Help children address fears (such as losing friends, being bored, or even staying safe). Help them to focus on what they can control and take action on those areas.
7. Work with children to develop coping strategies. These can be easy things that help all of us feel better, like: talking to a friend, going for a walk, spending time with family, drawing, deep breathing, or any other positive strategy.
8. Focus on ways that they can help combat the pandemic (SMART principles or activities such as making masks).
We also love the guidance that the Child Mind Institute continues to provide, with information for parents and communities as well as social media resources.
And since our last post, there are several new resources to discuss COVID-19 with children, tweens, and teens.
American Psychological Association: Books to Help Kids Cope with COVID-19
Let us take a moment to remind ourselves that we can continue to help the children in our lives get through this moment.
Stay Safe. Stay Sane. And be a germ buster!