Keeping Kids Happy & Healthy
Just like adults, children may experience stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak. While handling strong emotions is a normal response to the crisis, parents and caregivers can play a vital role in helping their children cope. Whether your child is heading back to an in-person or virtual classroom, it’s important to keep your children healthy, feeling happy and engaged in school curriculum.
Wellstar Health System Chief Pediatric Officer Dr. Avril Beckford offered expert advice to parents during the outbreak.
“Throughout this challenging time, children rely on parents and caregivers to lead the way,” Dr. Beckford explained. “Be a good role model by practicing social distancing guidelines and preventative health practices, such as frequent hand-washing. Explain to your children that the health recommendations are the best way to protect family, friends and vulnerable loved ones.”
In addition, the CDC shared several tips to keep children healthy physically and mentally:
- Lead by example. Teach and reinforce preventative health measures like frequent hand-washing, disinfecting high-touch surfaces and laundering clothes often.
- Play it safe. If you live in the same household as high-risk individuals, limit your children’s contact with them. Postpone non-essential visits to see older family members and friends.
- Prepare when going out in public. Children two years of age and older should wear a cloth face-covering over their nose and mouth when indoors in public spaces.
- Make time to talk. Use age-appropriate language to talk to your children about the COVID-19 outbreak. Address their worries, answer questions and share facts from reputable sources.
- Watch for signs of stress. Look out for changes in your child’s eating behaviors, excessive worry or sadness, and trouble paying attention.
- Maintain a safe distance. To limit the spread of the virus, the CDC recommends maintaining a distance of three feet between students in the classroom whenever possible.
- Create a flexible routine. If your children are attending school virtually, set consistent times to wake up and go to sleep during the week. Balance the school day with both learning and free time.
- Make learning at home fun. Incorporate creative activities into the day like drawing, painting, puzzles and journaling.
- Focus on healthy nutrition. Feed your children healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to boost and maintain their natural immunity.
- Help kids stay active. Encourage outside playtime and physical activity in your children’s everyday routine during the week.
- Stay connected. Help your children make virtual visits to friends and family over the phone or video chat.
For more information and parenting tips, please refer to the CDC’s article about helping children cope during COVID-19.
Making Time for Yourself
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people may feel stress or anxiety. If children are attending virtual school, many adults are now playing the role of both parent and teacher. During this challenging time, parents should make time to unwind and take care of themselves.
“As a parent or caregiver, be sure to replenish your own physical and mental well-being.” Dr. Beckford said, stressing that parents should take time to recharge and relax. “Replenished parents are best equipped to be great parents.”
Small changes in your routine can make a big difference in your outlook. Set time aside to relax during your day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Do activities that make you feel happy and at ease, such as going for a short walk, painting or deep breathing.
For more information and helpful coping tips, please visit our article about taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Finding ways to help you and your children cope with anxiety and stress can help everyone stay healthy and hopeful. If you notice stress beginning to interfere with your or your child’s daily life, please reach out to your healthcare provider.