How to Promote Children’s Mental Health During the Pandemic

Photo by Julian Wan on UnsplashCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Gabby Macenis shared with Healthy Lombard that in the age of social distancing, the transition for children can be especially difficult with the lack of social interaction, physical activity, and confusion. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020) mentions specific difficulties that children may face during the pandemic such as a routine change, disruption of their learning and health care, missing events, and safety insecurity. Their daily routines have changed by having to distance from family members, online-learning, and missing how events like birthdays are celebrated.

It can be challenging for children to understand why they are unable to do their previous activities, so the CDC has provided resources to help parents explain the coronavirus to their children. For example, they have provided printable door hangers to remind children, and even adults, to bring their mask, wash their hands, and socially distance at six feet. These are great resources to keep around the home to remind the children of ways to prevent the spread.

It is also helpful to have a conversation about how to promote understanding of this topic. The CDC recommends that conversations begin with the child’s concerns; what they are concerned about or how to wear a mask and end on a positive note by asking them what they are looking forward to in the future. This type of conversation provides parents with the opportunity to further understand the child’s worries and misconceptions. Moreover, open dialogue allows for everyone to be on the same page and to ease stress.

Finally, the CDC provides a fun “do it yourself” activities to complete with the children. A video provides instructions on how to create a mask. Another activity included involves creating soap to promote hand hygiene. The final activity is a handwashing song that teaches the children the five steps of handwashing (wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry). All these activities allow the whole family to enjoy time together and have fun!

While this time of experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming for the family, these examples of how to start the conversation and possibly ease family-related concerns may help to make this more of a positive experience for everyone.

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