The increasing cases of COVID-19 comes with growing stress and anxiety that can also affect children. It is important to help younger people understand sudden changes around them to avoid problems with their physical and mental health.
The isolation, physical distancing and restricted time outdoors can be confusing and unsettling to kids. There have been reports about young children having problems with their sleep, eating habits and mood linked to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Claire McCarthy, a primary care pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Children may also become more clingy. It may sound positive but it can be a problem for parents who are working from home.
“The truth is, though, that that life has changed for them, too — and for some of them it has changed dramatically,” McCarthy said in an article posted on Harvard Health. “Young children are less able to understand the nuances of all of this; for them, the world truly is all about them.”
How To Help Kids Understand COVID-19
McCarthy said that it will be difficult for parents to explain the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. But there are ways that may help children understand the current crisis.
The first step is to have a simple and optimistic conversation with your kids. Focus on changes that affected them, such as limited visit to relatives and reduced time outside with their friends.
Tell them that a virus has been spreading outside that could make people sick and that spending more time at home could help avoid infection. Parents can mention the efforts of other people to make the coronavirus go away and keep us safe.
It is also important to explain why the family has been wearing face masks and the importance of washing hands and keeping a safe distance from others.
“It’s important to talk positively, not just because you want to keep things positive now, but also because at some point we will be going out more, and if you haven’t laid the groundwork, kids may be frightened when they begin to do things they weren’t allowed to do before,” McCarthy said.