HOW CHILDREN CAN COPE WITH COVID 19
Kids are hearing about this virus daily. Take the time to sit down with your children to define what coronavirus/COVID-19 is using language that supports their development. Start your conversation by asking your children, “What do you think coronavirus or COVID-19 is?” This gives you an understanding of what your children know, think they know or how they interpret the illness.
Here are some ways in which they can cope:
Explain to your children the importance of good hand-washing
Bring your children to a sink and practice hand-washing together. Show them how to “create tiny bubbles” by rubbing their hands back and forth and how to get the soap between all spaces, even to the ends of their fingers. It helps to encourage your children to sing an entire song such as “Happy Birthday” twice during hand-washing so they can be sure they are spending the time they need to get their hands clean. As a caregiver, hang a sign on your front door such as: “Welcome home. Please remember to wash your hands.” When kids come into the house, this will remind them of the importance of hand-washing when entering your home; before meals; and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
Discontinue your children’s access to news and social media regarding COVID-19
Explain to your children that there are many conflicting resources regarding the coronavirus. Therefore, you are going to monitor and limit their access to external media at this time. Reassure them that you will share any new information you learn regarding COVID-19 that they should know. As a caregiver, use reliable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, mayoclinic.org, state health departments, and your school district’s communications, to gather your facts. Be aware of your children’s presence when listening to the news. Although they may not appear to be watching, they may be listening and internalizing the information they are hearing.
Create new home routines as a family
Establishing and maintaining routines help kids predict what is planned, allowing them to feel control in situations. Use a whiteboard or paper to display a daily schedule at home. Explain if social distancing continues to be encouraged, the new norm is going to be staying at home. Identifying clear expectations for the day will support and encourage kids to feel accomplished. Consider the following when making a schedule: wake-up and bedtime, meals, school and learning, exercise and outdoors time, play, household responsibilities, etc.
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