Many of us are preparing for a major shift in our lives related to the precautions needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”). We are concerned about the well-being of our loved ones and may need to radically change our lives to keep the most vulnerable safe. As a child clinical psychologist, I’ve received a lot of emails regarding how mental health providers can help children and families during this time. Instead of reviewing the latest research on screen time, we are focusing today’s #MediaMonday on building resilient children during this pandemic.
It is important to talk to your children about what is happening in age-appropriate ways. We know that, based on prior research on the impact of news coverage of disasters and tragedies, viewers are susceptible to increased concern and confusion. Keeping the news on throughout the day may be wearing for children and may create additional anxiety. Please limit young children’s access to news coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 and have discussions with your older children and adolescents. I highly recommend this resource sheet from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, regarding how to help your children cope during this pandemic: https://www.nctsn.org/resources/parent-caregiver-guide-to-helping-families-cope-with-the-coronavirus-disease-2019.
Parents and other caregivers are concerned about keeping their children healthy. Please reference this information from the CDC about what is known about children and COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children-faq.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fspecific-groups%2Fchildren-faq.html.
Make sure to access reputable sources (e.g., CDC or World Health Organization) to acquire information about risk to you and your family.
With schools being closed in the state of Michigan and several other states, many caregivers are wondering how to balance child care without relying too much on screens. First, although I’m a big proponent of balance, I understand that these unique circumstances will tap our resources and may make it hard to keep to certain screen time limits. As we acclimate to this new normal, there may be some days where screen time is higher than other days. Do not blame or shame parents or others on their screen time during the pandemic (or at any other time). Recognize the immense privilege that comes with being able to remain screen-free and work from home during social distancing.
Some of us can work from home and can practice social distancing. However, many parents and caregivers in our country cannot work from home, either due to their type of work or because resources needed to actually work from home are not available (e.g., child care, internet access, flexible work schedules, and paid sick leave). These resources are critical to help families in great need. We should be taking action to help our neighbors and those who will be most impacted by this crisis. Larger scale supports may be critical at the federal level. Please reach out to local, state, and national leaders to demand support for families with caregivers who will not be able to work during this pandemic.
For those of you who can practice social distancing, please reference this article for guidance from psychologists on how to stay well while remaining in isolation at home: https://www.apa.org/practice/programs/dmhi/research-information/social-distancing.
For parents and other caregivers whose children need to remain at home due to school closures, check out these great recommendations for how to keep children occupied and engaged in play at home:
Do you have tips or strategies to help keep children active and resilient during this time? Share your ideas by tweeting @sarah_domoff or using #MediaMondays. Stay well and contact your local psychologist for support @apa @pureMPA.