Schools are closed, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Utah communities, and kids may have a lot of questions or concerns.
Orley Bills III, social worker at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, offers the following tips for parents to help kids cope with fears about COVID-19 and help their children – and themselves – cope in a time of uncertainty.
- Maintain routine as much as possible. If there is a need for home quarantine, focus on the temporary aspect of this change.
- Make sure you as parents and caregivers are taking care of yourselves. Go outside, take time for mindfulness or meditation, go for a walk, or read a book.
- Take time to talk about what is happening as a family. Conversations should be developmentally appropriate and occur where the family is comfortable and has time to ask questions. Help children express feelings around changes related to COVID-19, such as no school and less fun activities. Acknowledge the stress they are facing without judgement.
“It’s important to have regular outside information, don’t overdo it. Empower children to ask questions about the things they’re hearing, and help them investigate whether the information is true,” said Bills.
- Remind children that they already know how to stop the spread of germs. They can wash their hands, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and throwing it away, and not sharing food or drink.
- Take steps as a family to ensure you have everything necessary to stay healthy and provide care if someone gets sick. Engage children/adolescents in tasks they are developmentally capable of doing so that they feel part of the process (organizing/labeling/helping with lists)
- Maintain communication within and outside the family with regular check-ins.
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