As we continue to navigate the rapidly changing COVID-19 health crisis, caregivers must stay informed and protect themselves and their families. Yet the constant influx of information from various sources can leave everyone, especially children and adolescents, feeling confused and anxious.
How can parents address their child’s concerns while maintaining a sense of balance and normalcy? Dara Steinberg, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and director of psycho-social services in Columbia’s Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology & Stem Cell Transplantation, offers the following tips:
Have age-appropriate conversations
As a parent, your first instinct may be to shield your child. But Steinberg notes, “The vast amount of media coverage and disruption in their routines will make this difficult.”
When speaking about COVID-19, follow their lead. Candid discussions with your child will help them understand what is happening and can help clear up any misconceptions.
Develop new routines
“Having a daily routine will help people, especially children, gain a sense of normalcy,” suggests Steinberg. For example, keeping a consistent wake-up and bedtime can help with adjustment and overall mood.
Other practices, such as limiting time in front of screens before bedtime, can also be helpful. Steinberg adds, “Engaging in activities (no matter how limited in scope) can help boost overall well-being.”
Find new ways to remain social
Now more than ever, we should take advantage of all the incredible technology at our fingertips. Steinberg recommends, “Using apps like Facetime, or picking up the phone to make a call, can help everyone in the family remain engaged and connected to their community and the world.”
Ease their anxiety
It is nearly impossible not to worry. However, it is important to strike a balance. We should be aware and proactive but not react extremely. Steinberg adds, “Remembering how individuals before us have faced and successfully overcome challenges can help us navigate this time of uncertainty.”