Caring for Your Children
It is important to be able to discuss issues like coronavirus (COVID-19) with your children in an open and honest way. Your children have already heard and seen information about things that are happening. Try to limit what they see and hear (limit yourself as well) and have them check with you to help them understand myth from fact.
When having conversations, it is necessary to find out what they know and what questions they may have. https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/fact-sheet/outbreak_factsheet_1.pdf
Children and adolescents may have different mental needs related to the current COVID-19 outbreak. As children and families are impacted, it is important to understand how to effectively listen and communicate with children and adolescents about what they are experiencing.
When speaking to children, be developmentally appropriate. Answer honestly and clearly and make sure your children know you are available to have ongoing conversations. When addressing mental health and stress, use language that makes sense for them and avoid making things too complex. Be sure to be open to any questions or thoughts your children may have. The work of children is play. Play with your children and look for themes of fear or danger where you can be reassuring, comforting, supportive and shift to positive outcomes. https://www.cstsonline.org/assets/media/documents/CSTS_FS_Helping_Homebound_Children_during_COVID19_Outbreak.pdf
As parents and caregivers, you may help children by:
- Paying attention, be a good listener, acknowledge worries
- Allowing children to ask questions
- Limiting news exposure
- Encouraging positive coping activities such as:
- Progressive muscle relaxation and controlled breathing
- Using a journal or feelings tracker
- Having children think of their friends who may be struggling and what they could do to help
- Keeping routines and schedules, including creating school, homework, and social time
- Scheduling and having positive family time
- Write or draw a story/picture about defeating personified worries
- Modeling and highlighting the importance of self-care
Although it might not always feel this way, kids typically listen to their parents more than anyone else in their life. Modeling positive behavior and bonding with your children, especially during a stressful time, can have a big impact on the health of your children and yourself. Bonding with your kids can be as easy as having a meal together. Here are some other ideas for how you can bond with your family while social distancing.
Ideas for Family Bonding:
- Go for walks together, ride bikes, or rollerblade - you can still go outside as long as you are not interacting with people from outside your household
- Do arts and crafts together, like painting, drawing, papier-mâche, etc.
- Teach your children a new skill, or learn a new skill together, like origami
- Read books together
- Draw on the driveway with chalk. Make a chalk mural as a family, or write encouraging things for passersby to see
- As a family, write and then perform a play
- Watch a movie or TV show as a family and talk about what you watched after with your children.
By Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition