While the spread of coronavirus is stressful for grownups, it is also troubling for children. During the last week children have watched their schools close, parents stay home from work, grocery stores run out of inventory and heard adults talking about a mysterious, dangerous sickness. How could they not get anxious?
The first thing to do to help your child is to explain what is happening in familiar, simple language. You can say that coronavirus is a new type of flu, and people are being extra careful by staying at home to keep the sickness from spreading. Doctors are working hard to find medicines that will help. In a little while the sickness will pass and things will get back to normal.
Second, try to maintain a regular schedule as much as possible. Stick to the same bedtime and morning routines as always. Establish a schedule throughout the day with times for schoolwork, breaks and meals. The Ontario government has developed an e-learning website (https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home) with resources that can help students maintain math and literacy skills at home.
Finally, if your child is anxious, don’t dismiss their feelings. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time and people are feeling uncertain. Then you can work together to develop coping skills for dealing with anxiety. Brainstorm questions to identify and challenge anxious thoughts, then try to replace them with more realistic and helpful ones. Practice deep breathing and mindfulness exercises together. Finally, make use of this time to connect with your child. Develop some long-term projects together, plan future vacations. Above all, remember that this crisis will pass and things will get back to normal. You will be able to look back on these weeks as a time that you and your child connected, developed resiliency skills and faced a challenge together.
To find support for you and your family during this crisis, Dr. Lorraine Campbell, PHD, is available for online appointments through teleconference or on the phone. BOOK ONLINE, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (647) 383-9074 to discover how counselling can make a real difference the well being of your family!