Talking to Children about COVID-19

Andrea RodgersPsychotherapyLeave a Comment

Many families may be wondering how to best support their children during these unprecedented times. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 has resulted in drastic changes across our country, and for children school-closures have led to a significant change in their daily routine.

Children are likely beginning to process feelings around not seeing their friends or teachers for a while. Some children may be feeling restless, may be missing the structure of their classroom, or worry about falling behind academically.

During stressful times children often look to the adults in their lives to gauge how to react. Remember, children may not have the language to talk about how they are feeling and as caregivers it is important to check-in and monitor how they are doing. While we may not have all the answers, there are ways we can help children process their feelings such as; talking to them about the virus, validating their feelings, providing reassurance, and teaching them coping strategies.

The following guidelines have been adapted from the resource published by the National Association for School Psychologists. You can access the full article here.

 

Guidelines:

  • Try to remain calm and reassuring. Children will look to your verbal and non-verbal cues to gage how they should react to this situation. Acknowledging your feelings and discussing your concerns without getting overly anxious is appropriate. This can lead to productive discussions around ways to keep your family healthy.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about COVID- Let children ask you questions about the virus and provide them with factual answers. Explore what they have already heard about the virus and help them fact-check if what they have heard is accurate.
  • Set up a coping plan as a family. Encourage children to participate in daily activities such as cooking or baking. Stream child friendly movement classes or encourage children to join you doing online workouts (There are many free options available online!). Plan family movie dates/games nights, or schedule phone calls to friends and family. These are simple ways to help children continue to have fun and stay connected with loved ones.
  • Teach your children ways to decrease the spread. Talk to your children about the importance of social-distancing, good hygiene, and reasons why you may be working from home. This will help to provide them with a sense of control and highlight how they can help the current situation.
  • Try and monitor what they are watching on television/social media. For all of us (adults included!) it is easy to get caught in the spiral of COVID-19 news stories and social media. While some of the information may be factual it is important to remember that developmentally inappropriate information can lead to confusion and further panic in children. If your child would like to watch the news about COVID-19, watch the news with them so you can provide age-appropriate explanations. Most importantly, try to limit the overall amount of exposure.
  • Monitor your children’s anxiety symptoms. It is normal that as a result of COVID-19 all children may experience increased levels of anxiety. However, it is important to recognize that children who already experience daily anxiety may experience a significant spike in symptoms. Help children stay present and grounded by doing activities such as coloring, a puzzle, or doing yoga.
  • If you are concerned reach out to a professional. During these uncertain times both adults and children may benefit from working with a professional to learn how to cope with their thoughts and feelings. Many professionals are offering video or phone sessions and can send resources over email.

Serenity Now Wellness recognizes the increasing need for social-emotional support during these uncertain times. Some of our psychologists are offering sliding scale sessions at a reduced rate to help you and your family cope during these uncertain times.

We have a team of psychologists who work with both adults and children.  Our team is flexible and can provide sessions in the office (with appropriate risk measures in place), over the phone, or through video. Now more than ever it is important that as a community we come together to support each other. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us over the phone: 403-454-7600 or email us at info@serenitywellness.ca.

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