Tips to ease worries in children or teens concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19)
1. Know the facts
Update yourself on information about COVID-19.
Check sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to understand the symptoms, scope, risks and safety precautions and prevention of spreading.
2. Explore, listen, and reassure
Be aware and ready to answer questions that your child may have about the virus, even if they did not bring it up. As a parent you may want to explore what your child knows and give them correct information. Have self-awareness and acknowledge your child or teens feelings about it. Identify any fears or worries and reassure your child or teen about being safe and self-aware to take the necessary precautions.
Address your kids’ fears calmly with these assurances, if they apply:
• If there are cases nearby, focus on efforts underway to keep the disease from spreading.
• Your family will take extra care to stay healthy by washing your hands, keeping your hands off your faces as much as possible, covering coughs and sneezes, not sharing drinks and utensils with others, avoiding others who are sick, and going to the doctor if you get sick.
• Experts are doing all they can to understand the virus, treat people who have it, and keep it from spreading.
3. Limit news exposure
Be mindful of what you and other adults are saying about the coronavirus when children are present. This could trigger anxiety. Avoid too much news with graphic information as well. This may bring about a panic. Encourage anxious teens to reduce or avoid researching the virus.
4. Remain Positive
Our children will react the way we do if we are most likely anxious. Remain positive and calm and practice good hygiene and take necessary precautions. If your children’s stress and anxiety persist in spite of taking these suggestive steps, contact your primary care physician who may refer you to a mental health specialist. Another option is to call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, a 24/7, 365 day-a-year, free national hotline that provides immediate crisis counseling. It is toll-free, multilingual and confidential.
Dealing with Social Distancing and Isolation
Isolation and loneliness are significant mental health challenges, and so we need to take care of both our mental and physical health:
1. Be safe If you are young and healthy try to limit contact with large crowds ( 6 feet away) and risk bringing it back to older at risk family members. Wash your hands.
2. Take a walk with family at the park or in your neighborhood staying 6 feet away from others.
3. FaceTime or Video chat eat lunch with a friend or talk about your day, the positive things. Keep the conversation positive and light.
4. Stay busy work on school work, help parents around the house with chores.
5. Reduce media overload watch a movie, read a book, color, play video games or board games with your family.
Social distancing and isolation without the proper coping strategies could increase mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. The tips above are suggested things that could reduce the risk of developing mental health problems.