Health Care

Coronavirus Outbreak: How to Help Your Kids Cope with Stress

A mother comforts her daughter.
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Any outbreak of infection or disease can take a big toll on your mental and emotional health, and coronavirus outbreak is no different. Kids feel the weight of this outbreak, too, and they respond to emergencies differently than adults do.

Your kids may need extra support during this stressful time. Despite the spread of coronavirus, you can reassure and comfort your little ones in small yet significant ways every day.

Answer Your Child’s Questions and Fears with Reassurance

Kids might have a lot of questions about coronavirus, stemming from what they see on television and what they hear from friends. Television news reports are often more dramatic and frightening, worsening kids’ fears. Early on, and as often as you can, limit the amount of exposure your kids have to distressing media about coronavirus outbreak.

Make sure your kids get their information from you — someone who’s getting their information from only the most reliable sources, and who’s dedicated to keeping their kids safe at all times.

Explain What’s Happening in Ways They Can Understand

As a parent or guardian, you can be the source of accurate information — and constant reassurance — for your child, as you help them separate myth from fact about coronavirus. Simply answering their questions and listening to their anxieties can help them feel better about the situation.

Give your kids clear, simple information, in words they can understand. Tell your kids the facts about what has happened close by, what’s going on now in your community and make sure they know the simple ways to reduce their risk of getting sick, like good hygiene.

Explain the Real Dangers, While Reassuring Them They’re Safe with You

While you reassure your kids, don’t keep them in the dark about the reality of the situation. Gently explain to your kids what could happen, like a family member (or themselves) feeling sick and having to see the doctor through the phone. And while you’re at it, be sure to explain that the COVID-19 death rate is currently low, and most people (about 80%) recover.

Most importantly, remind your kids that you will do everything you can to keep them safe at all times.

Help Your Kids Cope with a COVID-19 Death in the Family

If a family member, relative, friend or loved one has passed away from coronavirus disease, your kids need your compassionate guidance through the grief process. To better understand how to approach this conversation, read how to help kids cope with tragedy, and how to help kids cope with the death of a role model.

Model Calm Behavior for Your Kids During Coronavirus

When you react to coronavirus outbreak calmly, you can care for your kids more effectively, and your behavior can go a long way to reassure them during this scary time. Take care of your own mental and emotional health to reduce your own stress during this time, too.

While it’s not always easy to feel confident, the better you prepare for coronavirus quarantine (e.g., staying at home with your family), the better you’ll feel.

Keep Kids Included to Help Them Feel Confident

As you clean and prepare your household, keep your kids involved. Getting involved means they’ll be less focused on their worries, and this helps them feel more included and in control during a time of uncertainty.

Review your family’s emergency or disaster safety plan with your kids, as having a plan can help give them a sense of control. Additionally, let them help you as you get your house ready. Let your kids know what you’re doing and why, every step of the way, to cut down on confusion and give them a better understanding of what’s necessary. You can get them involved by giving them small tasks to complete or turn a preparation task into a game or scavenger hunt.

Praise Good Hygiene Habits — and Make Them Fun

Make sure your kids know that practicing good hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent coronavirus from spreading. Tell them about how important it is to:

  • Avoid touching their face, including their eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw it away
  • Wash their hands often, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer

As you see your kids practicing it well, be sure to praise them for it, which reinforces the behavior. And hygiene doesn’t have to be boring, either. Make it fun for your kids by:

  • Letting them pick their own hand sanitizer to keep close by
  • Letting them pick a tissue box for their room or play area
  • Showing them how to make hand-washing fun in a few simple ways

Here for Your Family with Expert Virtual Care

Throughout coronavirus outbreak, we’re here to support your family in body, mind and spirit. And fortunately, you don’t have to leave your home to visit your AdventHealth primary care physician during COVID-19 outbreak.

With a video visit through the AdventHealth app, you can visit your doctor to get a diagnosis and discuss better ways to manage stress — right from your smartphone or tablet.

For more support, find other blogs like this, answers to coronavirus FAQs and other important resources on our Coronavirus Resource Hub.

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