No matter where your own views and anxieties lie in regard to the coronavirus, we can’t ignore that our children are hearing the buzz and fear coming from us, their friends, the media and school. We’re cancelling spring break trips, asking them to wash their hands 80 times a day and freaking out when anything gets remotely close to their mouth or face. In light of news that the WHO has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, we wanted to share some tips as a therapist and educator as we work to navigate this in real time with our own families.

Here are 5 important reminders for parents and caregivers during this time:

  1. Children are in tune with the emotional states of the adults around them. If you’re anxious, it’s likely your child will feel that stress.
  2. Talk directly to your children about the coronavirus. (If we’re honest with ourselves, we oftentimes read a news article, talk to our friends and partners about it, and ignore that there are little listening ears in the room.) Make sure to ask what they’ve heard and if they have any worries. We should be honest with kids and speak to them at their level.
  3. If your schedule has changed because you’re working from home or your child’s school is closed, attempt to create structure and routine around the new normal. Children thrive in structured environments.
  4. If you’ve been ordered to hunker down and stay indoors, keep busy with arts and crafts, family game nights, and other activities. These can be great mood boosters for everyone in the family, as well as a good distraction from the state of the world for a moment (and that’s OK).
  5. Be real about the situation. People are dying from the virus around the world and families are grieving. Death can be a very hard topic to talk about with children. For more resources specific to grief and loss, we recommend visiting @thedougycenter.

We know that there’s a full spectrum of fear and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus. We are sending love and positive thoughts to all families affected around the globe. Please don’t hesitate to comment below with any questions or comments about these tips. And if you’re looking for a tool and resource to help guide the conversation and ease some of the anxiety, check out the Slumberkins Alpaca. Alpaca carries the weight of their worries, so your child doesn’t have to do it alone.