Dear Park East Family,
In recent weeks, the media has inundated us with news and information about COVID-19, information which is constantly changing not just hour to hour but often minute to minute. While we cope with our own fears and anxieties, it is important that we remain calm so that we can help our children cope with the uncertainty and disruptions in their daily lives.
During times of stress, children look to adults for guidance. If adults are stressed and worried, children are likely to sense these emotions and we see a rise in their stress levels as well. In order to reduce children’s anxiety, it is important to provide them with accurate factual information without causing undo concern.
Adults should reassure children that health officials, medical professionals, religious leaders, teachers, school administrators, as well as members of our government are working together to keep them and their families safe and healthy. Now is the time to have open communication with children about the COVID-19, and what they should be doing to avoid the virus and reducing the spread of the disease. Talking to children about proper hygiene, their fears, anxieties and concerns, empowers them by providing them with a sense of control thereby helping to reduce anxiety.
BELOW ARE SIX SUGGESTIONS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL:
1. Communicate – Don’t be afraid to discuss COVID-19. Be cognizant of your tone, affect and body language. It is important that you are calm when speaking to your child. He/she will sense your stress which will heighten your child’s anxiety.
Children have already heard much about this virus. What they need from you is honest, factual information which is explained on his/her individual developmental level. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s ok to say that you don’t know. You will try to find the answer and you will get back to them. Keep explanations age appropriate.
2. Help your child feel in control – Teach them what they can do to keep themselves safe. Discuss CDC recommendations which include the importance of frequent hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds, particularly after coming in from outdoors, before and after eating. Stress the importance of not touching their face, coughing into their elbow, disposing of Kleenex immediately after use, and keeping social distance.
3. Keep lines of communication open – Children are not always eager or ready to have discussions when their parents are. That’s ok. Let them know you will be available to continue the discussion in the future. Also assure them that you will keep them informed when you receive new and pertinent information. Dispel rumors when appropriate.
4. Provide reassurance and support – Let children know that symptoms seem to be milder in children. They are often worried about the older adults in their lives. Although there aren’t always easy answers, you can honestly reassure them that our government, health care systems, and communities are working collaboratively to treat the virus.
5. Keep regular schedule – Children frequently resist routine, yet maintaining structure in times of stress provides security and a sense of control. This applies to children of all ages. It is important that bedtime, morning routines, mealtimes and playtimes are structured. Non-school related or educational technology should be limited and media coverage should be avoided. However, children should be encouraged to FaceTime with grandparents and other family members they are unable to visit.
6. Be sure to tell your children you love them and are there for them.
We all understand that these are very challenging times and as a community we must work together to meet these challenges and continue to bring a bright future to which we all aspire.
I am available to assist with any questions or concerns you may have. Please contact me at Drwiener@parkeastdayschool.
Sherry Wiener, DSW
- The Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.
org/article/talking-to-kids- about-the-coronavirus/ (ideas in this email were taken from this article)
- Coronavirus and Helping Kids: FAQs on Handwashing, Anxiety and More: https://www.understood.
org/en/learning-thinking- differences/coronavirus- concerns-helping-kids-cope
- Coronavirus: What is Coronavirus? | Childrens Video: https://www.youtube.
- Answering Kid’s Questions About The Coronavirus: Video: https://
- From Child Study Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone: Everyone is Anxious! Talking with Children about Novel Coronavirus – Presented by Dr. Lori Evans and Dr. Kathleen Camacho: https://register.
gotowebinar.com/recording/ viewRecording/ 6227021837085893644/ 128871964358078723/jtalesnick@ jewishedproject.org? registrantKey= 1905063729792821259&type= ABSENTEEEMAILRECORDINGLINK