Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most schools, places of public gathering, and nonessential businesses are closed, and parents and other caregivers are faced with helping their families adjust to the new normal. This includes trying to keep children occupied & feeling safe. None of this easy, but it helps to stay focused on what is possible in order to reinforce a sense of control and to reassure children that they are okay, and that the situation will get better.
It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety. This is also a tremendous opportunity for adults to model for children problem-solving, flexibility, and compassion as we all work through adjusting daily schedules, balancing work and other activities, getting creative about how we spend time, processing new information from authorities, and connecting and supporting friends and family members in new ways. The following tips can help.
STAYCALM, LISTEN, AND OFFER REASSURANCE
· Be a role model. Children will react to and follow your reactions. They learn from your example.
· Be aware of how you talk about COVID-19. Your discussion about COVID-19 can increase or decrease your child's fear. If true, remind your child that your family is healthy, and you are going to do everything within your power to keep loved ones safe and well. Carefully listen or have them draw or write out their thoughts and feelings and respond with truth and reassurance.
· Explain social distancing. Children probably don’t fully understand why parents/guardians aren’t allowing them to be with friends. Tell your child that social distancing means staying away from others until the risk of contracting COVID-19 is under control.
· Focus on the positive. Celebrate having more time to spend as a family. Make it as fun as possible. Do family projects. Organise belongings, create masterpieces. Sing, laugh, and go outside, if possible, to connect with nature and get needed exercise.
· Establish and maintain a daily routine. Keeping a regular schedule provides a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being. It also helps children and other family members respect others’ need for quiet or uninterrupted time.
· Explain simple safety steps. Tell your child this disease spreads between people who are in close contact with one another.
(resource National Association of School Psychologists)