Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
CDC has created guidance to help adults have conversations with children about COVID-19.
Remain calm and reassuring.
- Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.
- Practice stress relief when you feel anxiety building-do some deep breathing, exercise, read, watch comedy shows, eat some icecream-do what works best for you. Take care of yourself!
Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
- Make time to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you when they have questions.Talk with people you trust about your concerns and feelings.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some activities you and your children enjoy while you are home.
Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
- Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.
Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.
- Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. While school is closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Unplug...Keep abreast of the news but make time daily to turn off the tv, turn off the internet and turn off social media. Set aside time time to just UNPLUG!
Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Give children information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
- Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the Internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
Information from CDC.GOV and the Mental Health Association of Forsyth County