This global pandemic is a stressful situation for everyone, kids included. So here are a few tips for helping kids cope during the pandemic.
- Validate their feelings.
It’s okay to not feel okay. Talk to children about what they are feeling, use this opportunity to teach children that feelings are not
permanent, that we are capable to accepting it, holding on to it, and letting it go.
- Establish the underlying concern.
Children may struggle to articulate how they are feeling, or why they are feeling that way. I will often state my observations and
thoughts by saying things like “I notice you are turning away from me, are you worried that I will see you cry?” Or “Are you sad because
you won’t be able to see your friends every day?” Usually after a few yes/no questions I gain a better understanding of what they are
feeling. Once you have established the underlying concern, check in with them to see if they need help with regulating their emotions.
Sometimes the ability to name the feeling is enough, sometimes they might need a bit more help with making their uncomfortable
feeling a little more comfortable.
- Monitor their exposure and reassure them.
The media can get a bit crazy. It might not be about the virus itself, but images of empty shelves, people crying due to unemployment,
can be very distressing for children. Be mindful of what children are exposed to. Remind them that there are many people out there
who are working hard to get us through this, and we need to do our part to stop the spread.” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener” aria-label=” This video from Nanogirl (opens in a new tab)”> This video from Nanogirl
gives a great explanation about what the Coronavirus is in child-friendly terms.
- Create a new normal.
Yes, children do need routines and structure. However, with schools closing, activities being on hold, it is hard to keep things the way
they were. Use this opportunity to create new routines. Especially during isolation, we need to emphasize on building connection.
Make time to talk to children, play games, tell stories. Use screen time to connect to family and friends, rather than for kids to occupy
Elvynia Tseng is an advocate for improving education, mental health, and wellbeing for children and adolescents, with a special interest in
the experiences of refugee children. She has an MA in Bilingual School Counseling from New York University, and an MA in International Child
Studies from King’s College London. She currently works as a Year 5 teacher and pastoral care coordinator at an IB school in Wellington, New Zealand.