When children and youth watch news on TV about an infectious disease outbreak, read about it in the news, or overhear others discussing it, they can feel scared, confused, or anxious—as much as adults. This is true even if they live far from where the outbreak is taking place and are at little to no actual risk of getting sick. Young people react to anxiety and stress differently than adults. Some may react right away; others may show signs that they are having a difficult time much later. As such, adults do not always know when a child needs help.
Many providers and guardians are wondering how to bring up the current epidemic in a way that will be reassuring and will not make children more scared, confused, or anxious than they already may be. It’s important to remember that children react to anxiety and stress differently than adults. Some may react right away; others may show signs that they are having a difficult time much later. Below please find a variety of resources to help families and children through this stressful time.
- The Child Mind Institute ~ Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus (Child Mind Institute) ; and
- This tip sheet from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Helping Homebound Children during the COVID-19 Outbreak ~ Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
- Maine’s G.E.A.R. Parent Network staff are here to support the parents/caregivers in Maine who are raising children or youth with emotional and behavioral health concerns. We understand what parents are going through, all members of the G.E.A.R. team are parents who have raised, or are raising, children with special needs. G.E.A.R Parent Network offers, free of charge: phone support, parenting suggestions (like child behavior management), education regarding children/youth’s diagnosis, educational workshops via webinar (accessible by computer or smartphone), referral to services, and resource information. “If you are a parent/caregiver in Maine who is raising children or youth with emotional and behavioral health concerns and you need to vent, want emotional support, resource information or need more intensive parent support – call the G.E.A.R. Parent Network anytime at 1-800-264-9224 and the G.E.A.R. Parent Network parent staff would be happy to listen or help you.”
This Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) released on 3/2/2020 from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has information to immediate act on when there is an infectious disease outbreak, as well preparation ideas. Knowing can reduce stress and help calm likely anxieties for child, families and ourselves as providers. Be sure to also check out the additional resources at the end of the fact sheet from healthlychildren.org and the Q&A from the cdc for specific groups.
Sesame Workshop launched the Caring for Each Other initiative—a commitment to supporting families throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The initiative’s landing page, SesameStreet.org/caring is home to resources designed to provide comfort, manage anxiety, and foster learning at home. Another piece of this initiative is created especially with providers and caregivers in mind (info may also be appropriate to share with families): Health Emergencies, a new topic page on Sesame Street in Communities. The page includes: New animations and printable activities that playfully teach prevention and offer opportunities for comfort and together time. / Articles for caregivers to help answer tough questions and provide self-care strategies. / Activity bundles that families can use to build skills and have fun together.
With the growing impact of the COVID-19 virus, ReadyRosie is developing this free toolkit as a resource to support families with information and resources for supporting the children in their care.