Quarantine Mental Health Tips
Talking to Children About COVID-19
In times of crisis, it can be difficult for children to understand why their life has changed so suddenly. Here are some helpful tips from Pines Behavioral Health on how to talk to children about Covid-19, as well as great ways to help them feel safe and secure during this difficult time.
- Remember, children can easily pick up on their parent’s anxiousness. Being a role model by keeping calm and helping your child feel secure can go a long way.
- It is normal for children to be asking questions. Answer them truthfully, but age appropriately. For the young, reassuringly tell them that there are germs that are causing people to become sick, but there are doctors, nurses, and hospitals helping them to get better. In the meantime, we need to wash our hands, cough or sneeze into our arm, and keep our hands away from our face. More advanced information can be given to older children, helping them decipher the facts from misinformation.
Children may wonder what they did to cause the family to remain home and for schools to be closed. Much like in divorce situations, children tend to think that they are the cause of something that has gone wrong. Reassure them that they’ve done nothing wrong.
It is important to give children a sense of security. Keep or develop a daily routine and engage in a lot of family time. Limit TV or other media exposure by finding new hobbies. Children thrive on parents’ attention, and this time at home gives us an opportunity to strengthen our family.
If you would like more information on this topic, or just need help getting through this, visit Pines Behavioral Health's website at https://www.pinesbhs.org/.
Tips for Positive Parenting During Covid-19
As the days continue in which we need to stay at home in order to stay safe, it may take a toll on our patience with our children and adolescents. Below are some tips to use while parenting now, and in the future:
- Make sure that any requests you make are reasonable. For example, “I don’t want you to talk” does not let the child know when it is OK to talk. Instead, say, “I would like you to be quiet for 15 minutes” if they are at the age of being able to tell time.
- When asking your child to do something, be very specific about what you want. For example, instead of saying “clean your room”, tell them to “pick up and put away your clothes, and then make your bed”.
- “Catch Them Being Good”! Children love the attention of their parents and will do whatever it takes for you to pay attention to them, good or bad. When they are involved in an activity that you approve of such as reading, playing quietly, or helping you, make sure to let them know how much you appreciate this behavior.
- Take time out of your busy day to spend time with them. The more attention we can give children spontaneously, the less they will feel the need to do something that may be displeasing to get the attention that they need.
Monitor and Manage Your Stress Level
During this time of daily facing the threat of harm to yourself or family members through this invisible virus, stress levels are very high. Coupled with the fact that people are also serving multiple roles including home teaching, working from home, being a first responder, being a full-time caregiver, etc., the emotional toll that this can take is immense. BE SURE TO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Much like making sure the oxygen mask is on you before your loved one in a plane, you must take care of yourself emotionally before you can help others. Here are some helpful steps in how to take a personal break from Pines Behavioral Health CEO Sue Germann:
- Take a 10-minute break from whatever you are doing. Physically move away from where you were so symbolize that it is a break. If you can go outside, otherwise close your eyes and visually a nice peaceful place or a favorite, comforting memory
- Get moving! Get up, do a 10-minute stretch, 10 minute walk, lift a few weights around your house, etc.
- Listen to music.
- Pour yourself a glass of water and sit in a nice comfortable spot. Your break ends when you’ve finished your water. Children who are too young to tell time will be able to visually see when the parent is ready again.