How to Help Children Cope with the Pandemic
With the uptick in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, it’s not uncommon to hear of loved ones and friends who have been infected or who are in quarantine due to exposure. Children, especially, may be confused, worried, and afraid about classmates, friends, and family members who are sick. As parents, it can be hard to know if you’re saying the right thing or if something should be phrased another way. If you’re struggling with these conversations, our publication on how to talk to young children about illness might be helpful to you.
What we say to our children is important, but our actions are important, too. Try to find tangible ways to include your children in caring for loved ones. Actively doing something to help can make children feel better. Here are three ideas for getting them involved:
- Make homemade cards. Who doesn’t love receiving thoughtful homemade cards? Provide your child with paper and art supplies to make cards or drawings for the loved one. It’s a great way for children to express their love and concern for the friend or family member.
- Offer to provide food. Providing meals or snacks is an easy way to help friends and family during difficult times. Get your child involved in this act of service by letting them pick out the food to pick up. If you decide to pick up food from a local restaurant, bring your child along for the ride to help them feel involved. Remember to wear a mask if going inside restaurants or stores.
- Make a goody bag. If quarantining or in isolation, being cooped up in the house for an extended period can be pretty boring. Make a goody bag filled with fun things to do! Ask your child to pick out a board or card game to give to your loved ones. If there are young children, let your child pick out a new coloring or activity book for them. Don’t forget to add a few snacks for everyone to enjoy!
If you plan to drop off items, remember to avoid close contact. Communicate with the family about a good time to leave the items on the front porch, to prevent exposure. If delivering food, use containers that don’t have to be returned.
Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming, even for adults. Don’t forget children can carry that same weight, but they may not know how to deal with it. Faced with so much uncertainty, it’s hard for them not to feel overwhelmed and scared. Check in with them regularly to make sure they are okay. Answer any questions they may have and be a listening ear for their concerns.
For additional insight on how to have these difficult conversations with your family, MSU Extension’s program Trauma-Informed Parenting and Professional Strategies (TIPPS) offers great COVID-19 related resources.
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