Educating kids about COVID-19 without scaring them into nightmares can be tricky, but parents need to have serious conversations with their children to keep them safe and calm.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the “new normal” can be especially hard on younger children as they prepare for the new school year.
Experts are still learning about how the pandemic could affect children’s mental health, reported Good Morning America.
Here are six tips on how parents should support their children during this difficult time.
1. Maintain a daily routine
Dr. Anju Hurria, a child psychiatrist at the University of California, Irvine, said, “the structured routine is really big, and firm sleep times are very important.”
Hurria suggested creating a schedule by explicitly writing it on a whiteboard. This is an excellent way for children to know what they are doing throughout the day.
2. Make physical activity a priority
Hurria explained that while moving is vital for your child’s physical health, it is also essential for their mental health.
Even “just turning up music for 20 minutes and everyone in the family dancing,” Hurria said, is a great way to jump start some physical activity.
3. Limit negative news
"There's a lot of mixed messages being sent between the media, their friends, and others in the community that's probably making kids feel very confused," Dr. Francesca Okolie, a neonatologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center said.
Limiting the amount of negative news your child consumes can be helpful in keeping them in a relaxed state of mind.
4. Keep up social connections
While many continue to social distance, this may be hard for children who cannot see their friends from school.
For activities, Hurria recommended they create a family tree. She explained how the activity would push children to reach out to their relatives.
Parents can also set up virtual sleepovers or playdates by using video-conferencing platforms. Older children or teens can also go on a socially distanced walk outside.
5. Engage children in an open dialogue
Hurria said it is essential to check in with your kids. She said to set aside time in the day or week to ask them how they are doing, and engage in a conversation with them about their emotions.
6. Build hope and a sense of purpose
With free time during the pandemic, Hurria said it is good for children to "find some sort or hobby or project they are passionate about.” This creates a sense of purpose in your child, so that they may focus their energy on more productive things.