Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, the region’s leading resource to prevent abuse, protect children and heal families, is offering advice on how children and families can cope with the stress from the infectious disease outbreak, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
At this time, information about COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, as new details are confirmed and new questions emerge. In the event of an outbreak in the community, the first concern for a parent/caregiver is about how to protect and take care of children and family members. Even if a family is prepared, the potential of an outbreak can be very stressful. The following recommendations may help a family cope with this stress:
Check-in regularly with children about what they have viewed on the Internet and clarify any misinformation. Email and texting may be the best ways to stay in contact with others during an outbreak, as the Internet may host sensational media coverage and spread rumors.
Focus on supporting children by encouraging questions and helping them understand the current situation.
- Talk about their feelings and validate these
- Help them express their feelings through drawing or other activities
- Clarify misinformation or misunderstandings about how the virus is spread and that not every respiratory disease is COVID-19
- Provide comfort and a bit of extra patience
- Check back in on a regular basis or when the situation changes
Keep updated about what is happening with the outbreak and additional recommendations by getting information from credible media outlets, local public health authorities, and updates from public health websites (ex: CDC, DHEC).
Seek support and continued connections from friends and family by talking to them on the telephone, texting, or communicating through email or social media. Schools may have additional ways to stay in contact with educators and classmates.
Although families need to stay informed, minimize exposure to media outlets or social media that might promote fear or panic. Be particularly aware of (and limit) how much media coverage or social media time children are exposed to about the outbreak.
To reduce the spread of the virus, a variety of approaches will be used, including keeping those who are sick away from others and promoting healthy hygiene strategies.
To learn more about how you can help children manage stress, visit www.deenortoncenter.org.