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Supporting Your Child's Social-Emotional Needs
Supporting your children during the school closures and shelter in order due to COVID-19
- Move your bodies. Experts agree that staying active can increase immunity and boost our mental health. Practicing safe social/physical distancing doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself indoors. Exercise together. Take a walk in your neighborhood. Stretch your muscles. Be physical!
- Create and stick to a consistent daily routine. Set expectations about bedtime, getting up, getting dressed, screen time, outdoor activity time, schoolwork and chores for home, including cleaning and germ protection. While there is no need for a rigid schedule, most of us do better with a predictable structure.
- Eat well. Good nutrition is key to help manage stress. Try cooking meals together as a family. Teach your children how to work in the kitchen and make their own food. Drink lots of water!
- Try breathing exercises or mindful activities. The intent of these is to calm your body and mind. Keep your stress and anxiety levels down where possible. Deep breathing helps improve our focus. These techniques will be excellent tools to use for all ages. Practice together.
- Model appropriate emotions and feelings. Kids take their cues from the adults in their lives. Take deliberate action to practice self-care and maintain your own mental wellness. Don’t fall victim to constantly watching the news, checking social media or complaining about the shelter in orders that we are under. Look for opportunities to laugh, to bond, to relax and to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
- Pick up a new hobby. Dust off the sewing machine. Learn a different language. Start journaling. Play music. Use the extra time your kids have at home to encourage them to learn a new skill. Keep your brain, and your body, active and engaged.
- Stay connected. We may be practicing our physical distancing and staying home as much as possible as the Governor has directed, but we are still social beings and need to stay connected to our loved ones. Make phone calls, FaceTime, use Google Meet or Zoom to have family or friend teleconferences. Understand that our children have a strong desire to socialize- help them find appropriate ways to accomplish this while maintaining their safety and health.
Talking to Children about COVID-19
- Remain calm and reassuring. Let kids express their fears and anxiety and help them reframe into an appropriate perspective. Talk to them about factual information to reduce anxiety and uncertainty.
- Be available. Kids need your extra time and attention right now. They need to know they are being heard and listened to. They need you to be present. Keep in touch with loved ones and friends through phone calls and video chat.
- Avoid blaming words. Watch your words and avoid language that blames any group of people for the virus or creates stigma and stereotyping.
- Monitor screen time. Watching constant updates and news about COVID-19 can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing, especially for younger kids. Talk to your kids about information and rumors that may circulate on social media.
- Maintain a normal routine where possible. Nothing is normal right now. Try to create and maintain stability within your home for your kids where you can.
- Be honest and give accurate information. In the absence of factual information, children often imagine situations being worse than they are. Check www.cdc.gov for accurate facts. Click here for a fact sheet to help answer questions children may have.
- Review and practice basic hygiene protocol. They are watching you! Wash hands frequently for 20 seconds at a time. Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbows. Do not share food or drinks.
- Practice self-care. Go outside. Play. Get fresh air. Play music. Dance. Keep the environment positive. Click here for activities to reduce anxiety.