By TEIS Early Intervention Staff
The news about COVID-19 can be frightening, a major pandemic that has spread to almost every country around the world. The good news is that kids are affected differently than adults. Under 1% of cases have been recorded in children 9 years-old and under, and many of these have mild or no symptoms. There may be no fever, no cough, and no other sign of infection.
For children, the trauma of coronavirus is more about the stress of living in a changed world where the adults they depend on may seem anxious and uncertain, and the routines of daily life are completely disrupted.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.), masks and cloth coverings should not be placed on children under 2 years of age, nor worn by anyone who has trouble breathing. Social distancing and hand washing are still a must at every age.
Even though children are at very low risk of getting truly from COVID-19, once infected with the virus they can easily spread it to other family members, including parents, caregivers, and the elderly. This makes Social Distancing and good handwashing an important part of your child’s routine.
Remember, children look to adults for guidance on how to react during times of crisis. If parents and guardians appear to be overly worried or display panicked behavior, a child’s anxiety is certain to rise.
It is best to calmly reassure children that people like health and school officials are working hard to make sure everyone stays healthy and that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible.
In the meantime, giving children positive preventative measures and talking with them about their fears both help to provide a sense of security and control.
Routines are important for children and school closings and schedule disruptions are a source of emotional stress. Creating new routines is an important way to keep your kids grounded. This can include staying with set meal and bedtimes, doing virtual schoolwork, and keeping in touch with friends online, as well as finding time to talk and do enjoyable things with adults.
Listen and respond in a comforting manner. Even when parents and caregivers are worried, it is important to take the time to listen to the concerns of children and answer their questions as accurately as you can. They need to understand why schools are closed and why they can’t visit their friends, along with the importance of hand washing during the epidemic.
Let your children know it is OK to be worried, but that adults are doing their best to make the situation better and that more is learned every day to help keep people from getting sick. During this difficult time, tell them you love them and provide plenty of affection.
WebMD has an excellent article on Calming Your Child’s Coronavirus Fears.
No matter how supporting you may be, when young people are exposed to traumatic events, there are certain common behaviors you should look out for.
All children experience stress, including the emotional strain of seeing their parents or caregivers deal with serious issues. When stress affects children, it can interfere with their ability to manage their emotions and behavior.
Common ways that children act out include: aggression, withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, and falling back into regressive behavior.
Would you like to learn more about how Early Intervention can help your child? Call TEIS Early Intervention at 412-271-8347 or text 412-543-8398 for more information.
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LSU Health New Orleans | Supporting Children Isolated Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
National Association of School Psychologists | Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) | Caring for Children During the Pandemic