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COVID-19 Resources

MANAGE ANXIETY & STRESS

stress

Things you can do to support yourself

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful..

When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.

For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Learn more about helping children cope.

HELPING CHILDREN COPE WITH EMERGENCIES

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Regardless of your child’s age, he or she may feel upset or have other strong emotions after an emergency. Some children react right away, while others may show signs of difficulty much later. How a child reacts and the common signs of distress can vary according to the child’s age, previous experiences, and how the child typically copes with stress.

Children react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with a disaster calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

People can become more distressed if they see repeated images of a disaster in the media. Early on, consider limiting the amount of exposure you and your loved ones get to media coverage.  

Factors that Influence the Emotional Impact on Children in Emergencies

The amount of damage caused from a disaster can be overwhelming. The destruction of homes and separation from school, family, and friends can create a great amount of stress and anxiety for children.

Setting a good example for your children by managing your stress through healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol, is critical for parents and caregivers. When you are prepared, rested, and relaxed you can respond better to unexpected events and can make decisions in the best interest of your family and loved ones.

The following tips can help reduce stress before, during, and after a disaster or traumatic event.

Before
  • Talk to your children so that they know you are prepared to keep them safe.
  • Review safety plans before a disaster or emergency happens. Having a plan will increase your children’s confidence and help give them a sense of control.
During
  • Stay calm and reassure your children.
  • Talk to children about what is happening in a way that they can understand.   Keep it simple and appropriate for each child’s age.
After
  • Provide children with opportunities to talk about what they went through or what they think about it. Encourage them to share concerns and ask questions.
  • You can help your children feel a sense of control and manage their feelings by encouraging them to take action directly related to the disaster. For example, children can help others after a disaster, including volunteering to help community or family members in a safe environment. Children should NOT participate in disaster cleanup activities for health and safety reasons.
  • It is difficult to predict how some children will respond to disasters and traumatic events. Because parents, teachers, and other adults see children in different situations, it is important for them to work together to share information about how each child is coping after a traumatic event.

Visit the CDC page to learn more about the common reactions in children of different ages. 

 

ANSWERING YOUR YOUNG CHILD’S QUESTIONS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS

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Even if you’ve kept your toddler away from news about COVID-19 in the media or overhearing adult conversations, they are bound to have questions. Here are some age-appropriate responses to the common questions a toddler might have. Most importantly, remember to keep your answers simple and age-appropriate.

  • Why can’t I play with that little boy over there? “We have to take a break from playing with others so we can all stay healthy.”

  • Why can’t I have a turn with that toy? “We can’t play with other children’s toys right now, so we can all stay healthy.”

  • Why are we wiping down everything with wipes? “We wipe things down to keep them clean.” You don’t need to explain more than this—young children don’t understand germs or infection transmission yet.

  • Why is that person wearing a mask? “Sometimes people wear masks when they aren’t feeling well.” More on this question here.

  • Why won’t Grandpa (or other loved one) kiss or hug me? Reassure your child that their loved one still loves and cares about them very much. Then you can explain: “When a grown-up has a cold, they can keep others from getting sick by not hugging or kissing for a while. When they feel better and are healthy again, the first thing they’ll do is give you a big kiss!”

  • Why can’t I see mommy (or daddy, grandma, etc.)? If an adult in a child’s life needs to be separate from them, children may feel confused about it. Don’t worry your young child by talking about sickness or quarantine. You can say, “Mommy needs to be away for a little while, but she will be back soon.” Consider ways to stay connected even when physically apart, like video between parent and child. Read more here on making the most of video chat.

  • Why can’t I go to child care/school? “Your child care is closed right now. Your teacher and your friends are home too, just like you. When child care is open again, you can go back and see your friends. I’ll tell you when.” Avoid going into details about illness so toddlers don’t develop fears about attending child care.

  • Why can’t we leave the house? Why can’t my friend come over to play? “Right now, there is a rule that families need to stay home for a little while and be together. That helps us and our friends stay healthy. I know it can be sad when we can’t see and play with friends. But there are lots of fun things we can do together at home! Would you like to play chase or do a puzzle?” Check out our activity guide for play ideas.

Even if your child is too young to ask these questions, you might notice that they still appear curious about all the changes happening around them. You can validate that something different is happening without going into detail. Explain that a change in routine is happening and what your child can expect instead: “You’re going to be staying home with Daddy for a little while, instead of going to child care. This morning we’ll go on a walk and then we’ll have a snack.”

Looking for more information? Visit zerotothree.org/coronavirus for our latest resources and updates for families.