When children feel threatened, stress causes hormones to wreak havoc on their bodies and emotions. Fortunately, you can help.
Follow these simple tips to keep your children emotionally, mentally and physically healthy during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
1. Maintain Routines
To the extent possible, maintain a regular schedule to reassure children and promote physical and mental health. Children need structure, so encourage them to continue learning, playing, eating and sleeping on the same schedule.
2. Keep Them Connected
Develop plans for them to connect with friends or extended family in safe way, whether it’s by phone, text or video chat.
3. Watch Your Words
When tensions are high, sometimes we try to place blame or focus our energies on others. Remember, a virus can infect anyone, so don’t make assumptions about who might have COVID-19. In addition, be aware of any comments that other adults are making around your children, explaining what those comments mean if they are different from the values you teach.
4. Manage Media Consumption
Limit the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information can lead to unnecessary anxiety. Let your child know that not everything they hear on TV or the internet is accurate, and tell them you will help them find factual information as they need it. This will not only reduce their anxiety but yours as well. Encourage your children to engage in other activities instead.
5. Give Them Tasks to Do
Keeping children’s minds focused on specific tasks eliminates a lot of their stress. You can structure playtime, assign chores or ask them to create something, anything. Their minds can become hyper-focused to stimuli around them – good or bad. Ask them to create art, make a birdhouse, clean house, thank a caregiver with a note or picture or participate in the COVID-19 heart hunt on social media. Keep their minds focused on a goal and not on things out of their control.
We’re all in this for the first time, and we’re all learning. Be kind, and forgive yourself if you make mistakes. You can let your kids know that, with all honesty, COVID-19 will not last forever. We are all in this together.
If you suspect your child may have COVID-19, call their pediatrician and let them know before you bring your child in to see them.