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Caring for children during COVID-19

Just like adults, children may experience stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak.  

According to a news release from WellStar, while handling strong emotions is a normal response to the crisis, parents and caregivers can play a vital role helping their children cope. With schools closed and more time at home, it’s important to keep children healthy, feeling happy and engaged in school curriculum.

Dr. Kalyani Rajeev with Wellstar Medical Group Pediatrics offered expert advice to parents during the outbreak in a news release. 

“During this time, our regular routines of work, school and extracurricular activities are disrupted. However, it’s still important to create a consistent yet flexible routine at home for your children,” Rajeev said. “Schedule time every day for schoolwork, outside playtime and creative activities to help relieve stress.”

In addition, the Center for Disease Control shared several tips to keep children healthy physically and mentally: 

  • Lead by example. Teach and reinforce preventative health measures like frequent handwashing, 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 in a community setting.
  • 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.
  • Say no to playdates. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, your children should not meet in groups or play with children from other households while school is out. 
  • Create a flexible routine. During the week, set consistent times to wake up and go to sleep. Balance the school day with both learning and free time.
  • Make learning at home fun. Incorporate creative activities into the school 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 at home (not public playgrounds) 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.

Making Time for Yourself

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people may feel stress or anxiety. 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, according to the news release. 

Wellstar Health System Chief Pediatric Officer Dr. Avril Beckford gave encouragement to parents to keep them going strong. 

“As a parent or caregiver, be sure to replenish your own physical and mental well-being,” Beckford said, stressing that parents should take time to recharge and relax. “Replenished parents are best equipped to be great parents.”

According to the news release, small changes in a person’s routine can make a big difference in their outlook. The news release recommends setting time aside to relax during the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Doing activities that make a person feel happy and at ease, such as going for a short walk, painting or deep breathing is also beneficial. 

The news release encouraging finding way to help individuals and their children Finding ways to cope with anxiety and stress can help everyone stay healthy and hopeful. If a person notices stress beginning to interfere with their or their child’s daily life, they are encouraged to reach out to their healthcare provider.

For more information, visit wellstar.org/COVID-19 or call (770) 956-STAR (7827).