Going into 2020, I don’t think any of us expected we would be worried about social distancing, food and supply shortages, or being stuck in our homes to combat a virus that would sweep the world. Yet here we are trying to get used to our new “normal”. While we know this has been hard for adults, it can be especially traumatic for young children. For Mental Health Awareness Month, Healthy Child Care Colorado wants to spotlight the importance of supporting children through the COVID-19 pandemic in a developmentally appropriate way.
Children’s perceptions may make stressful situations feel bigger than reality. Their imagination can increase these fears and we need to take this fear seriously. Our words and actions can provide reassurance when we present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable. The good news is there are simple strategies we can employ to help children through this time of crisis.
One of the easiest things you can do is maintain daily routines. Having a daily routine helps children know what to expect and gives a feeling of safety and security. Work with your child to figure out what that routine should look like and then stick with it. Children’s Hospital Colorado has advice on additional ways to help children through this challenging time.
Maintain a routine check–in with your child to see how s/he is feeling. Sesame Street in Communities has some great videos you can watch together, which can help you start conversations with children that are designed to make them feel safer. These include Elmo’s I Can Feel Safe video and Big Bird’s Comfy-Cozy Nest.
Remember, it is not just about hand washing, cleaning, and social distancing. Take time to care for yourself as well as the children in your life and know that this will pass.
“It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy, we face the storm and defy it.” – Amelia Barr
- Sesame Street in Communities “Comfy-Cozy Nest”
- Sesame Street in Communities: Let’s Help, A Guide for Grown-Ups Helping Children Through the Toughest Times
- How to Calm Your Child’s Coronavirus Anxiety
- 8 Tips for Managing Children’s Anxiety About COVID-19
- Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic