How might she respond during the coronavirus pandemic, and what can I do?
The changes to our routine related to COVID-19 can be very stressful for everyone, including little ones. Remember that feelings of fear, anger, and boredom are normal reactions children may display during this stressful time. They may also become more restless, withdrawn and clingy, and may find it more difficult to fall asleep. Luckily, these feelings and behaviors are likely to decrease and even disappear when we eventually return to our previous routines and schedules. However, if you feel that your child is extremely distressed or is acting out much more than normal, consider asking for help and reaching out to mental health professionals.
In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help your child manage his or her stress reactions.• Give your child as much attention as you can, and respond to your child in a supportive and loving way.
• Try to stick to regular routines and schedules as much as possible.
• Answer your child’s questions about the situation and explain what is going on in a reassuring, age-appropriate way that gives your child appropriate language for what is going on. You can also try to focus on the things that you are doing to keep your child and family safe and healthy during this time.
• Try to avoid exposing your child to the media.
• Give your child some responsibilities that are suited to his or her age– for example, you could encourage your child to take care of a needy stuffed animal (telling your child that the doll or stuffed animal feels sad and lonely). By focusing on the doll’s feelings and on your child’s role as caregiver, your child is likely to shift attention from his or her internal distress which may help reducing his stress.
Take into account that your child may respond to your own feelings of stress. Know that, even if it is difficult to do, taking care of yourself will help your child as well.
This post was written in the Spring of 2020. Please follow your local guidelines and advice from family health care providers for appropriate, current coronavirus safety measures.