Earlier this week, Broward County declared a state of emergency due to the 4th case of the coronavirus confirmed. Parents have been watching the news for updates. Some are just beginning to worry, some are more worried now, and some are just terrified. It is important that in times like these, we remember that we are the adults and we need to be very careful. We need to be mindful of how we are reacting and what we are saying. Our kids are watching and they are listening, they feel our anxiety, our stress and they are learning from us.
Here are 9 tips on how you can support your child during the coronavirus crisis:
#1 Take care of yourself first, this means if you are feeling overwhelmed and panicked seek support, self-care is very important. Take some time to develop a plan of action and get organized. Having a plan and being proactive helps us feel more in control.
#2 Turn off the news. Constantly hearing about the outbreaks is emotionally overwhelming for a child.
#3 Keep your routine as much as possible. Routines help kids feel safe and secure.
#4 Be honest but developmentally appropriate. Do not lie, do not ignore or avoid questions. They are hearing about it in school. You want to be their trusted source of information. Stick to simple facts. Keep it short, don’t say too much all at once, kids need time to process.
“It is a virus that is going around, it’s like the flu”.
“People can catch it in similar ways as we catch a cold”.
“Most people get better but people who are not so healthy can get very very sick”.
“We might need to just stay home for a while to make sure the germs don’t spread and make more people sick”.
Refer to similar, familiar or previous experiences:
“We might need to stay home just like when there was a hurricane”
“We are getting supplies just like during the hurricane season”.
#5 Encourage taking care of their bodies and staying healthy. Including, proper and frequent hand washing, covering a cough, eating healthy, getting plenty of rest and exercise.
#6 Focus on the positive and the helpers. ( “Look for the helpers”- Fred Rogers).
Examples: “A lot of the people in China and Italy are already getting better”.
“There are very good doctors and nurses that take good care of people”.
“We can help by being careful not to spread germs”.
#7 Let them play! Kids naturally process things using play. Allow them time to play, free play.
#8 Love on your babies however old they are. Spend quality time because they need it now more than ever.
#9 Look out for any behavior changes such as sleep difficulties, fatigue, irritability, crying easily, withdrawal, or difficulty focusing. When children struggle with emotions they don’t tell us with words, they show us with behavior.
Unfortunately, these types of situations can be very traumatic for some children. Early intervention is always the best. If symptoms persist, seek help from a professional. If you are in the West Broward area, I can help. Contact me for more information.