Helping children cope during the COVID-19 crisis
Being a parent right now during the COVID-19 crisis isn’t easy.
Balancing the art of “adulting” – working from home or away from home, bills, cooking, cleaning, fitness – with self-care – while caring for children – can be a challenge.
Add to all of that having to worry about the COVID-19 pandemic – and you, your kids, your entire family – are very likely dealing with stress, fear and anxiety.
Your role as a parent
Parents can help ease all of this by having open and honest conversations with their children, so they understand what’s happening and what they’re doing as a family to stay safe.
Because parents are role models for their children, how a parent reacts to a situation will influence a child’s response regardless of the child’s age. Children are watching and listening to the response.
It’s important parents use facts rather than marketing hype and/or media hysteria. Some good, reliable sources include:
Safety is key
- Children of all ages need to feel safe during a time like this.
- Make a daily family schedule to maintain routines.
- Limit exposure to frightening images on TV shows, movies and the Internet.
- Limit access to the media (cable TV, cell phones, etc.) about COVID-19.
- Be ready to answer kids’ questions about COVID that they may hear on the news or from friends. Let them know that although COVID can be serious, progress is being made and people are recovering from the disease.
- Outside time. Go for a family walk around the neighborhood – staying six feet apart from neighbors. Kids can also play in the backyard -- provided they wash their hands once home.
Switch it up
- Create separate spaces for learning and work.
- Communicate your schedule, including work time and play time so children know what to expect.
- Be silly with children – whether they’re two or 22.
- Use this time to let children know they’re doing their part. Encourage children to help in the kitchen. Meal prep, clean up, etc.
- A “time out” can be a good thing for both the child and the parent. Take frequent breaks to regroup before the next task.
- Create time to “just be in the moment.” Don’t try and multitask.
- Allow for “play” no matter the age.
- Create art projects using items around the house and backyard.
- Learning can be fun. Baking and cooking are great examples for math and science.
- Use social media to connect with family and friends. There are all kinds of things you can do as a group: Read a book, play games, eat a meal and more.
- Parents can reach out to friends, family and colleagues with phone calls, social media and video tools like FaceTime and Skype.
- Encourage your children to make regular phone calls or FaceTime to their vulnerable relatives or neighbors.
- Group chats with other parents can help normalize feelings. It’s easy to hold something up with many hands rather than one.
You are not alone. HAP is here.
- See a doctor from home using your mobile phone, tablet or computer with HAP’s telehealth services. Licensed, board-certified doctors are available 24/7 for live, secure online visits from the comfort of your home.
- It’s normal to feel lonely, concerned or worried during this time. If you’re a HAP member and need someone to talk to, contact HAP’s Coordinated Behavioral Health Department at (800) 444-5755.
- Exercise at home with an Active & Fit Direct™ gym membership for $25/month or Silver & Fit® Exercise & Healthy Aging program at no cost for Medicare members
- For information on community resources available, read Need Support Through the COVID-19 Pandemic? These Community Resources Could Help.
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
Other helpful resources include:
- Helping Children Stay Upbeat While Stuck At Home | HFHS
- Supporting Families During COVID-19 | Child Mind Institute
- Helping Children Cope with Emergencies | CDC
- Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | The National Child Traumatic Stress Network