Families across the country are adjusting to the many changes resulting from COVID-19, including changes in daily life, the way we educate our children, and what we will now define as the new normal. This also includes keeping children occupied and focused on what is important. It is important to note that during this stressful time, children look to adults for guidance, so the way you react can have a major impact on how your child perceives and reacts to the changes occurring and information presented. COVID-19 gives parents the ability to model routines, schedules, and remote school lessons in creative ways. The following tips can help:
· Children look up to you. Staying calm, collected, and informed during this unsure time can decrease your child’s fears and ensure your child has the facts. Carefully listen to your child and help your child draw or write out concerns, thoughts, and feelings, then respond with truth, validation, and reassurance.
· Explain what COVID-19 and social distancing are. Children most likely do not fully understand what COVID-19 is and why we are social distancing. Create visuals or hands on activities for your child to explain what the COVID-19 virus does and exactly why we are participating in social distancing.
· Keep a morning routine, and don’t forget to relax. Keeping up with a regular schedule, especially as things start to shift to the new normal, is important to keep your child at ease. Working with your BCBA to identify preferences for activities that are calming and relaxing in nature to your child can help. An example of an activity that may be a preference to your child is yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
· Model basic hygiene and health practices. Encourage your child to practice regular hygiene like washing hands for at least 20 seconds, wearing a mask in public, and teaching personal space.
· Be aware of your child’s mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change the way we interact. This can mean decreased contact with friends and family. Pay close attention to your child’s eating and sleeping habits – if you see a sudden change, consult with a mental healthcare professional.
Keeping an open, understanding mind towards your child’s concerns can help your child adjust to the fears of going back to school in the fall and others concerns your child might have.
For more information on COVID-19 and other helpful resources, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children.html
For more information on hand washing and hygiene, visit https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf