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Helping Children Cope During Covid

  • 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.

    Watch for behavior changes in your child

    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.
    • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting).
    • Excessive worry or sadness.
    • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits.
    • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens.
    • Poor school performance or avoiding school.
    • Difficulties with attention and concentration.
    • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past.
    • Unexplained headaches or body pain.
    • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

    Ways to support your child

    • Talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.
    • Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn from you how to cope with stress.
    • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
    • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
    • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
    • Spending time with your child in meaningful activities, reading together, exercising, playing board games.

    There are things you can do to manage your stress.

    • Learn about COVID-19. Knowing the facts and stopping the spread of rumors about COVID-19 can help you feel more in control of what is happening.
    • Help stop the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands often with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with other people – even your friends. COVID-19 may be spread by people who do not have symptoms. These actions will keep you from getting sick and spreading the virus to other people you care about.
    • Wear masks when you do leave your home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Masks offer some protection to you and are also meant to protect those around you, in case you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. People who should not wear a mask are children under age 2 and anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • You can be social, but do it from a distance, such as reaching out to friends by phone, text, video chat, and social media.
    • Find ways to relax. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to do activities you enjoy, like exercising, gaming, reading or other hobbies.
    • Keep to a schedule. Plan times for doing schoolwork, relaxing, and connecting with friends.
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs. These substances can weaken your body’s ability to fight infections and increase the risk of certain complications associated with COVID-19.
    • Talk with someone you trust about your thoughts and feelings.

    You may be feeling loss or distress over the changes in your life during this time. There are steps you can take to cope with your grief.