From school closures and not being able to see grandparents or friends to cancelled events like birthday parties, your child is likely facing many new changes in their day-to-day life that can lead to higher levels of stress. This kind of stress can challenge a child’s physical and mental health, and contribute to conditions such as asthma, poor growth, depression, or behavioral problems. The good news is that there are simple things you can do every day, at home, to help your child cope with life’s changes and protect their health.
Communicate with your kids to reduce stress.
Not talking about something can make your child worry more. Parents and caregivers can help kids avoid the harmful effects of stress by talking with them about the pandemic in a calm, sensitive and age-appropriate way to help them cope. Making space for them to share their feelings with you and ask questions can help provide much-needed reassurance. Check out this guide from Child Mind Institute on how to talk to your kids about coronavirus for more tips and ideas.
Kids feel good when they know they are helping solve a problem. Help them understand why they are not able to see their friends and loved ones right now — because staying at home helps keep everyone healthy. Tell them there are things they can do to help – hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and wearing a mask when they go out. Provide encouragement by telling your kids how proud you are of them for being part of the solution.
Connect with your kids to reduce stress.
These moments are opportunities for connection. Turn off the TV and other devices for quality time together making art, dancing, singing or reading at home. Help your kids maintain connections with friends and loved ones outside of the home by phone, video chat or letter writing. Nurturing relationships that make children feel safe can protect their brains and bodies from the harmful effects of stress and make them more resilient. When they have strong feelings, try to listen with calm kindness and remind them that they are not alone.
Kids are sensitive to emotional signals from their caregivers, so it is important for you to manage your stress first. Remember to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Creating time to care for yourself puts you in a better position to offer comfort and encouragement to your child when they need it most.
Ready for more tips for your child’s wellbeing during COVID-19? Stay tuned for Part Two: Structure is Soothing, and visit our COVID-19 resources page for more information.