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Daily Dose

Day 22: 7 Steps for Talking to Kids About COVID-19

April 19th, 2020     By Daily Dose

Coronavirus COVID-19, Mental Health, Self-Calming Tools, Stress

​ In the past several days, civic leaders and health officials have warned that the coming week may be the most challenging yet, as infections peak in the nation’s hardest hit communities and new “hot spots” emerge. The grim warnings and graphic news alerts are instantly accessible and practically inescapable thanks to the proliferation and sophistication of social media platforms.

For many kids, exposure to the uncensored pictures and scary videos of emergency rooms, morgues and empty streets can make them question their own safety, feel more anxious and be more withdrawn or needy. With so many alarming predictions, it’s never been more important to tune into your children’s behaviors and tune out much of the media noise. Be proactive and support your children by doing the following:

Limit media exposure. Don’t obsess over the latest breaking news or make the virus the topic of every family conversation.

Listen to your children. Let them express their emotions and try not to tell them how they should There is no right or wrong way to feel.

Stick to the facts. Your children may hear exaggerated, embellished or inflated stories. Don’t feed into the hysteria or the fear. Use concrete terms and be brief, like you’re reading about a world event from the newspaper.

Give your children a chance to ask questions. If they have difficulty communicating their feelings, encourage them to communicate in a way that works best for them – journaling or drawing, for example.

Show vulnerability; it’s okay. Your children learn through experiencing and watching. They can learn how to cope simply by seeing how you grieve and manage during difficult times. Stick to routines. Don’t undermine your children’s sense of security by interrupting their activities with the latest gruesome statistics or gossip about who’s been infected.

Be honest. Acknowledge the dangers but remind your children that you and others are doing what they can, including sheltering at home and social distancing, to keep them as healthy and safe as possible.

If your children tell you they’re fine but their behaviors say otherwise, try using TIME (Talk, Instruct, Monitor and Encourage). See how to use TIME to ease fear and discomfort.

Today’s mental health message…Unplug from the news and have the family practice one or more of these coping skills. They’ll help you get back to your happy place!​​

  • Shoot hoops, kick a ball
  • Try to make as many words out of your full name as possible
  • Visit and engage with yourlifeyourvoice.org
  • Search online for new songs/artists
  • Rip paper into itty bitty pieces

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