Updated on 04/24/2020, 2:20 PM EST

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the lives of AmeriLife associates across the country. We are now social distancing, wearing masks, working in a virtual environment and postponing special events.

The children in our lives are also experiencing dramatic change. They are now attending virtual, online schools, making do without their afterschool and weekend activities, and spending a lot more time inside with their families.

Children look to adults for guidance on how to deal with change and stressful events. Parents, grandparents and other adults are advised to acknowledge the need for concern without panicking.

The National Association of School Psychologists offer these suggestions for supporting children during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Stay Calm and Offer Reassurance

  • Be a role model with your reactions
  • Be aware of how you talk about COVID-19
  • Explain social distancing
  • Focus on the positive
  • Establish and maintain a daily routine
  • Identify projects that can help others
  • Offer lots of love and support

Monitor Television Viewing and Social Media

  • Watching continual updates on COVID-19 may increase fear and anxiety
  • Dispel rumors and inaccurate information
  • Provide alternatives, such as games or other activities

Time to Talk

  • Let your children’s questions guide you
  • Answer children’s questions honestly, but avoid unnecessary details or facts
  • Children feel empowered if they can have some sense of control over aspects of their lives, which can reduce fear

Be Honest and Accurate

Keep Explanations Age-Appropriate

  • Early elementary school children: Provide brief, simple information that balances facts with reassurances that adults are there to take care of them and keep them healthy.
  • Upper elementary and early middle school children: Children this age can have more questions about their safety and concern over a local outbreak. They may need help in separating rumors from reality.
  • Upper middle and high school students: Provide honest, accurate and factual information. Refer them to appropriate resources for COVID-19 facts.

Stay Connected with Your Children’s School

  • Locate learning resources
  • Identify additional resources
  • Stay in touch with your children’s school
  • Connect with school staff

Know the Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • For some, the symptoms are similar to having a cold; for others, the symptoms are more severe or life-threatening

 

  • Practice good daily hygiene
  • Wash your hands multiple times a day
  • Compliment your children when they use a tissue or sneeze or cough into their elbows
  • Eliminate handshakes and hugs for now – even with family members
  • Foster a sense of control by offering guidance on what to do to prevent infection
  • Build the immune system by eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and engaging in regular activity

Be Aware of Signs of Change in Your Children’s
Mental Health

  • Preschoolers: thumb sucking, bedwetting, clinging to parents, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fear of the dark, regression in behavior and withdrawal
  • Elementary school children: irritability, aggressiveness, clinginess, nightmares, school avoidance, poor concentration, and withdrawal from family and friends
  • Adolescents: sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior and poor concentration

Click here for more details from the National Association of School Psychologists on helping children cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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