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Helping children cope during coronavirus pandemic

Posted: 2:35 PM, Mar 19, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-19 20:04:32-04

Schools have been closed in Clark County and many children are at home and possibly scared about what is happening in the world right now.

Many parents may not know how to talk to their children about what they are seeing on television and online.

The Child Mind Institute is providing the following tips:

  • Don't be afraid to discuss the coronavirus.
  • Don't volunteer too much information. Tell them what you think they can handle according to age and maturity level.
  • Take your cues from your child.
  • Deal with your own anxiety first.
  • Be reassuring.
  • Tell your children how they can be safe.
  • Stick to a routine.
  • Keep talking.

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According to the Child Mind Institute, youth aged 12-18 years may experience a range of reactions:

  • Avoidance of feelings, mood swings and irritability
  • Staying focused on the event
  • Feelings of anxiety, fear and worry
  • Sadness, grief and/or withdrawal, and perhaps the expression of suicidal thoughts
  • Radical changes in attitudes and expectations about the future
  • Changes in appetite, sleep, hygiene and other self-care habits
  • Physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches, aches and pains)
  • Changes in academic habits, such as trouble with memory and concentration, and/or reluctance to attend school
  • Lack of interest in usual activities, including how they spend time with friends and family
  • Engaging in harmful behavior, like drinking alcohol, use of drugs or risky activities

What caring adults can do:

  • Promote their own self-care. Let them know it’s OK to take a break from talking with others about it or from participating in memorial events.
  • Maintain routines. Stick with family rules, such as curfews, checking in and keeping up with homework and chores.
  • Don’t push them to talk, but let them know you are available when they are ready. Be open to questions and the expression of strong feelings.
  • Consider having your teen attend peer support groups and available activities that engage them in coping strategies.
  • Limit exposure to TV, newspapers, and radio and other media coverage.
  • Notice radical changes in behavior and keep a close watch on what they are planning and how they are doing. Assure them that these extra check-ins are temporary.
  • Address concerning behavior. Consult with your own supports or other supportive adults to assist you in assessing your child’s unique needs during this time.
  • Be aware that reminders may cause reactions.
  • Empower teens to maintain a sense of control. They may want to be helpful by participating in appropriate volunteer opportunities in the community.
  • Take care of yourself.