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Supporting Your Children’s Emotional Health During a Pandemic

Heather White

While children are among the least likely to contract the coronavirus, they are nevertheless very likely to be emotionally impacted by the challenges of social distancing. Child trauma experts at the Child Trends and the Child Trauma Training Center at the University of Massachusetts developed an excellent guide for parents to support their children’s emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the experts explain, the lifestyle adjustments necessary to combat the spread of the coronavirus disrupt children’s sense of security and stability. Since Harvard researchers are projecting that we may need to continue social distancing to some extent well into the future, and since Governor Polis is recommending that Coloradans continue to stay home as much as possible even after the stay-at-home orders are lifted, parents should be prepared to provide ongoing emotional support to their children.

The experts recommend the following measures to help your children succeed while in home isolation:

  1. Children will be observing their surroundings carefully, asking a lot of questions and may have strong reactions to the news of the coronavirus outbreak. Be very sensitive and patient when responding to them. Validate their feelings and provide them with suggestions for coping with their stress and energy. Don’t deprive children of age-appropriate information about the pandemic but limit their exposure to media coverage intended for adults.
  2. Keep your children busy with safe activities and connected with their peers and family members. This will help them build resilience to adversity and keep their minds free from worries. Give your children an active role in their day-to-day routine to help them feel in control during this anxiety-provoking time.
  3. Reassure your children that you will protect them and focus their attention on positive thoughts. If your children seem to need further assistance with behavioral or emotional issues, contact a mental health professional.

Taking steps to ensure that your children thrive during the pandemic is not only best for your children but is also a great way to prevent disputes with your co-parent.

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