Family Guide: Helping Parents and Children During the COVID-19 Crisis
It’s a stressful time for us all, and navigating it with children in your care can make things even more challenging. We have gathered good sources to help you communicate with children, support them, and manage stress and anxiety during these difficult and uncertain times.
Find ways to talk to your kids.
These trusted sources have guidance and resources on how to best communicate with children about the crisis:
Communicate in a calm voice. Find out what they know and share truthful information that is age-appropriate. Consider a daily check-in to see how they are feeling and find out if they have questions or concerns. Let them know it’s okay to feel sad and scared. For younger kids, you might start by sharing this comic by Malaka Ghabrid (@malakaghabrid on Instagram) or the A Kid’s Guide to Coronavirus, a book by Rebecca Growe and Julia Martin Burch that’s available for free download.
Monitor and limit news coverage.
Start and end with trusted sources and also take steps to limit your consumption of news.For the latest on the pandemic, get information directly from the State of California, the California Department of Mental Health, the CDC, and WHO. Consider tuning in to state or county press conferences, which are also posted online and on social media. Then choose one or two trusted local news sources.
Look out for excessive crying, irritation, returning to behaviors they have outgrown (i.e. bedwetting), or excessive worry or sadness in younger children. For kids of all ages: unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, irritability and “acting out” behaviors, difficulty with attention and concentration, unexplained headaches or body pain. For teens: use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Start with a group text or email chain with friends and family members who also have children and offer and ask for tips and ideas. Or consider using a video-conferencing platform like Zoom for regular check-ins. Share self-care tips and ways you are coping.
Encourage your children to connect with friends and classmates.
Consider virtual play dates for young kids (i.e. read a story together on FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype) and encourage older kids to have regular check-ins with their friends and classmates using text, email, or social media platforms. Also check out our post on ways to stay connected.
Share your stories and coping strategies.
We have heard from parents in our community and seen and read a lot of posts online about families struggling to maintain calm and patience, and to balance life, work, and home-schooling while confined to home with their children of all ages. You are not alone.
Use the California Parent & Youth Helpline at 1-855-427-2736 and Online Parents Anonymous® Groups as part of Governor Newsom’s initiative for COVID-19, which provides evidence-based emotional support 8 am to 8 pm through calls, text, live chat and emails and offers free weekly online support groups sign-ups and resources online: caparentyouthhelpline.org