We know that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. During challenging times, such as the emerging COVID-19 situation, there are a number of ways we can support our kids.
Keep in mind that, if parents and or guardians seem overly worried, children’s anxiety may rise. It is always helpful to reassure them that health and school officials are working hard to ensure everyone stays healthy.
Here are a few other suggestions:
Remain calm and reassuring
- Children will react to and follow your verbal and nonverbal reactions
- If true, emphasize to your children that they and your family are fine
- Remind them that you and the adults at their school are there to keep them safe and healthy
- Let your children talk about their feelings and help re-frame their concerns into the appropriate perspective
Make yourself available
- Children may need extra attention from you and may want to talk about their concerns, fears and questions
- It is important that they know they have someone who will listen to them and make time for them
- Tell them you love them and give them plenty of affection
Monitor television viewing and social media
- Limit television viewing or access to information online and through social media
- Try to avoid watching or listening to information that might be upsetting when your children are present
- Speak to your child about how many stories about COVID-19 on the internet may be based on rumours and inaccurate information
- Constantly watching updates on the status of COVID-19 can increase anxiety – avoid this
- Engage your child in games or other interesting activities instead
Be Honest and Accurate
- In the absence of factual information, children often imagine situations far worse than reality
- Do not ignore their concerns, but rather explain that at the present moment very few people in this country are sick with COVID-19
- For additional factual information visit the Government of Canada’s Public Health website
Review and model good hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices
- Encourage your child to practice good hygiene every day – simple steps to prevent the spread of illness
- Wash hands multiple times a day for at least 20 seconds (singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star slowly takes about 20 seconds)
- Giving children guidance on what they can do to prevent infection gives them a greater sense of control over disease spread and will help to reduce their anxiety
- Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly; this will help them develop a strong immune system to fight off illness
Please remember that we are here to support our families. Pembina Trails student services department offers a wide variety of services.
For more helpful tips and resources visit The National Association of School Psychologists website.