Is Your Kid Struggling During COVID-19?  Here’s How You Can Help

Julie Graves

Is Your Kid Struggling During COVID-19? 

Here’s How You Can Help

Whether your children are in elementary school or college, the sudden loss of their normal school routine is going to affect them. They no longer have the structure of a class schedule and are missing out on hanging out with their friends. This is not to mention the loss for students who are graduating from high school or college, who are missing out on important milestones and traditions. Below are some tips of what you can do to help alleviate your kids’ struggles while they are home bound to help improve their mental and physical health:

Discuss what is happening with the coronavirus – but not too much

For your kids, it might be extremely helpful to have a family conversation about the pandemic, especially if they are younger! According to the CDC, speaking with your kids about coronavirus can help them break down their fear and anxiety about the pandemic. The CDC recommends staying calm during these conversations, providing accurate information, limiting news and media about coronavirus in the house, and including the ways that they can help prevent getting sick, such as washing their hands and keeping their hands away from their mouth. This will help your kids feel more in control of the situation!

Let them know that it is okay to mourn their losses 

I’ve heard a lot of young people say that they feel silly being upset about missing the end of the school year or a birthday party when people are dying during the pandemic. Experiencing loss is very individual, and one being more extreme does not negate the other. Losing the security of normal life and important milestones is still a loss, and letting your kids know that they can feel sad, and giving them room to feel sad, will help them cope. If you notice ongoing sadness or anxiety that starts to affect their ability to function however, you may consider connecting your child with a therapist that offers online telemedicine appointments. You can reach out to 24/7 to the Klein Family Harford Crisis Center hotline by calling 1.800.NEXT.STEP to access local mental health resources. 

Come up with fun alternatives to celebrate special days, holidays, birthdays, and graduations

The internet is filled with families who went all out hosting prom at home, with the entire family dressing up in black tie and dancing around the living room! For birthdays, you could organize a surprise Zoom call with your kid’s closest friends, or ask their friends to record a short birthday message and compile a video! Perhaps even organize a drive- by, cycle-by, or skate-by parade! This will help your kids still find joy in special occasions, even when they are all in pajamas. 

Work together as a family to come up with new routines, and stick to them!

The loss of a daily schedule can make every day feel daunting! Instituting a family schedule could help everyone in the family adapt better. For example, you could have a household morning exercise routine where everyone goes biking, walking, or running. Or maybe your family bakes together a few different times a week, and tries recipes you have never heard of from episodes of the Great British Bake Off. This could help prevent feelings of boredom and bring your family closer together! The activities are entirely up to you, and can be whatever your family likes to do. The structure will help make the days feel more normal for both you and your kids.

If your college aged or older kids are home, respect their independence

As a college student myself, I did not expect to spend the end of my junior year at home trying to finish my finals in the same room as the rest of my family. The same goes if you have adult children who moved home during this time. While it may feel like they’re back to being teens again, it is important to remember that they have been living on their own as adults, and it is important to respect their independence. If they are taking online classes or working remotely, it might be helpful to have a calendar on the fridge or the door of their rooms so you don’t interrupt classes or work meetings. For older kids, carrying on their lives as normally as possible will help support stability. My parents have been very respectful of times where I am in class or working, which has helped me be able to keep up my normal routines. 

Remind them constantly that they should not feel any pressure to be productive during a pandemic

Kids grow up thinking that they need to engage in many activities outside of school and take advantage of their summers with volunteering, summer jobs, or camps. Even during a pandemic, older kids might still feel pressure to beef up their resume for clubs, special programs, or college applications. Letting your children know that while they are welcome to start new hobbies or gain new skills, they don’t have to, which could help release this pressure to be productive. Ensuring that your kids know that you do not expect them to carry on as normal during a not-normal time will help them be kinder to themselves and potentially put a break on anxieties that they are not doing enough.