How You Can Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear of COVID-19
Hi, my name is Megan Cole. I’m a registered nurse and former child life specialist, but my most important role is that of a mother of two children. If you are anything like me, you may have been wondering exactly how your kids are going to be affected by the recent changes in our world. It’s all seems so overwhelming.
My own kids have been asking questions and have been hearing lots of information about COVID-19. While he was still in school, my 6-year-old told me that his teacher mentioned a child in the Dallas area being sick with COVID-19. He then tearfully told me he was scared because he didn’t want the virus to “get him.”
I saw the fear and worry in his eyes. In that moment, I knew it was important that I proceed with caution, while also helping him to understand an age-appropriate version of what’s happening in the world.
You may also be struggling to find the right words to help explain things to your kids without frightening them or giving them more information than they need.
First and foremost, remember that you as a parent know your child best. You truly know their personality, as well as how they express their own feelings and emotions. Here are some general things you can do to help your child:
- In the words of Mr. Rogers, “look for the helpers.” Assure your children that scientists and medical staff are looking for all the ways they can to keep people safe and healthy.
- Try to maintain your regular routines as much as possible. Children thrive with consistent, predictable routines. They feel safe and cared for when they know what to expect. One of our routines is reading before bed and talking about our day. I make it a priority to keep this routine going.
- Limit kids’ exposure to media as much as possible. News coverage is not meant for little ears. If you think your kids aren’t picking up on things, please think again. Little ears are always listening.
- Monitor and limit your own media consumption. If you are constantly tuned in, you can become overwhelmed and your children will pick up on your fears and anxiety.
- Wash your hands! Wash your hands frequently and have your children do the same. Hands should be scrubbed for a minimum of 20 seconds (sing the happy birthday song twice through)
- Leave your shoes outside. Shoes are covered in germs!
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces. Pay special attention to things like door handles, faucets, light switches, counters and remotes. Let your kids help, give them a job and praise them for helping keep your family healthy.
- Prioritize sleep. Young or old, a rested body is important for physical and mental health.
- Try to get some movement every day. Have a living room dance party with your kids. Turn on some Kidz Bop, and don’t be afraid to let your kids see you act silly! Exercise releases feel good chemicals in your brain!
- Exercise your child’s brain, too. By now you may have been sent information from their school on work they can do during the day. But find time for some math, reading or science during the day. This seems repetitive.
- Consult your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned they have signs of illness.
Our amazing Emergency Department Child Life team shared some great online resources you can use with your children. I recommend you view them first before sharing with your kids:
Video for children:
Resources for caregivers on how to talk to children: