Helping Children Handle the Stress
Watching news reports, spending time on social media, and listening to people discuss their fears about COVID-19 can cause people to feel anxious. This is a particular concern for young people, who may not fully understand or have context for the information they are receiving.
It is important to remember that children look to trusted adults for how to respond in stressful situations. Adults who remain calm, share factual information, and provide answers that are developmentally appropriate can help young people remain calm also.
Some key talking points:
- Pay attention to updates from local health officials but limit the time spent watching, reading, or listening to reports. More than once or twice a day may be excessive.
- Watch out for conversations that blame the outbreak and spread of the virus on a specific ethnic group. Viruses know no boundaries and COVID-19 affects people of all ethnicities who live in all parts of the world. Challenge misinformation and stereotyping that you see or hear.
- Social support is important. Be sure that if someone you know is ill, they receive support and reassurance.
- Do your part to limit the spread of the virus. If you have symptoms, follow the recommendations of health officials and avoid exposing others to the virus.
- Maintain routines as much as possible. Remember that children need time to relax and play.
Below are links to several articles available that provide suggestions about how to talk with children and youth about this issue.
- Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus – National Public Radio
- Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Helping Children Cope With Stress During the 2019-nCoV Outbreak – World Health Organization
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource – National Association of School Psychologists
Updated March 14, 2020