LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 28, 2020) – As the coronavirus lockdown presses on, the impact that it is having on children and families is undeniable. However, the impact varies greatly depending on each child and their family’s situation. Children of health care workers, for example, may see their parents less and worry more about them when they’re at work. For younger children, this may be their first time hearing about hospitals, illness and death, which can lead to difficult conversations. Knowing their grandparents are more susceptible can lead to more stress and anxiety. As sports seasons, proms and graduations are canceled, and kids have prolonged separation from friends and extended family, it can be even more difficult to bolster morale, particularly as many parents face financial uncertainty.
We know that children do best on some kind of routine. Many parents stepped up like champions in the beginning in of the COVID-19 crisis; They started managing schoolwork, developing creative projects and planning activities. For the first few weeks, many parents felt that they could manage this arrangement. But as the lockdown has continued for weeks with no official end in sight, many parents have wavered. School is hard under the best of circumstances and kids may find it harder to concentrate at home. Schools, daycares and extended family are key for many families to be able to function, and it becomes harder and harder to manage that routine, especially when parents must also work from home or may be facing financial pressures or losses.
But kids are resilient. We can help our kids through this. We’ve learned from other natural disasters that in the long-term, most kids will recover. Most of the challenges are kids are facing are likely temporary. With every challenge our kids face, we have an opportunity to support them and to teach them resiliency.
What can we do to support our kids?
- Several reputable organizations have created tip sheets on what to look for as signs of stress in children and on how parents can help to support their child through this time period.
- Common recommendations include the following:
- Listen to your kids. Every child will deal with the challenges relating to COVID in his or her own way. Find out what part of this is the hardest for your child.
- Provide your child with honest, age-appropriate information. For children that are showing signs of worry and anxiety, consider limiting exposure to the news and instead sharing information with your child yourself.
- Stay on top of preventative medicine. Utilize telehealth to stay in touch with your child’s doctors.
- Help your child focus on what they can control such as handwashing or choosing between several activities.
- Help your child connect safely with others. Use videoconferencing, phone calls, texting. Drive by parades in cars while waving to family or friends is a fun way to help your child stay connected.
- If you are worried about your child’s emotions or physical health, reach out to his or her pediatrician’s office for guidance.
Finally, take care of yourself and reach out for help when you need it for your child or yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Parents need to remember to take care of themselves to be able to continue to support their kids. Many people in your community may be able to offer emotional support or help you find resources to help your family manage current challenges.
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