Just like adults, children may experience stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak. While handling strong emotions is a normal response to the crisis, parents and caregivers can play a vital role helping their children cope. With schools closed and more time at home, it’s important to keep your children healthy, feeling happy and engaged in school curriculum.
“While this can be a stressful time for adults, we must also educate children about what is happening in a calm and age-appropriate manner,” said Wellstar Pediatrician Dr. Hebah Sadek Pranckun. “Be honest throughout the discussions while offering reassurance and positivity.”
Wellstar Pediatrician Dr. Brandi Lewis also recommended parents be mindful of their actions.
“Even during difficult times, children can pick up healthy habits from you and your body language,” Dr. Lewis explained. “Focus on being a good role model for your children in your everyday activities, whether you’re practicing proper handwashing techniques or addressing their worries about the outbreak.”
To keep children healthy physically and mentally, the CDC shared these helpful tips:
- Lead by example. Be a role model by reinforcing preventative health measures.
- Play it safe. Limit your children’s contact with high-risk individuals.
- Prepare when going out in public. Have children two years of age and older wear a cloth face-covering in community settings.
- Make time to talk. Use age-appropriate language to talk about the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Watch for signs of stress. Look out for changes in your child’s behaviors, eating patterns and mood.
- Say no to playdates. As a safety precaution, your children should not have group outings or play with children from other households.
- Create a flexible routine. Balance the day with both learning and free time for your children.
- Make learning at home fun. Incorporate creative activities into the school day like drawing, painting, puzzles and journaling.
- Focus on healthy nutrition and stay active. Encourage outside playtime at home and serve healthy meals to boost your children’s natural immunity.
- Stay connected. Help your kids make virtual visits to friends and family via phone or video chat.
Making Time for Yourself
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people may feel stress or anxiety. Many adults are now playing the role of both parent and teacher. During this challenging time, parents should make time to unwind and take care of themselves.
“As a parent or caregiver, be sure to replenish your own physical and mental well-being.” Said Wellstar Health System Chief Pediatric Officer Dr. Beckford, stressing that parents should take time to recharge and relax. “Replenished parents are best equipped to be great parents.”
Set time aside to relax during your day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Finding ways to help you and your children cope with anxiety and stress can help everyone stay healthy and hopeful.
If you notice stress beginning to interfere with your or your child’s daily life, please reach out to your healthcare provider.
For more information, please visit wellstar.org/COVID-19 or call (770) 956-STAR (7827).