It’s hard to believe it’s been about 1 year since the Coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. As adults, many of us have settled into a routine of following the necessary precautions. We pack our hand sanitizer and masks as we head out the door, stand at least 6 feet apart from others, and wash our hands often. But for our children, adapting to these changes may not be as easy. Many kids are just now starting to return to activities that were a part of their pre-pandemic life. Things like going to school in person, engaging in extracurricular activities, and visiting amusement parks will be different for kids now. And all of that time spent at home or distancing from others could cause some extra anxiety or push back from kids when it comes to following new rules with old routines. Here’s how you can help make your child feel more comfortable and improve their cooperation!
Engaging in pretend play or “role play” at home can be a great way to talk about new scenarios. It gives your child a way to practice the rules they’ll be asked to follow when the time comes for that scenario to actually take place.
Involve one of your child’s favorite teddy bears or figures and imagine that he or she is going out (to school, the store, or another common place your child will be going). Ask your child to help as you take precautions like putting a mask on the toy. Go to another room and pretend it’s the destination. Talk aloud about things you’ll be careful to do. For example, “let’s use some hand sanitizer before we go in and on our way out!”.
Read About It
Reading books about a new or different experience can give your child more information about what to expect. By taking the guesswork out of the unknown, you can increase your child’s comfort level. He or she may know that certain experiences like going to a music class is going to be different now than it used to be because of “the virus”, “germs” or whatever simple terms you choose to use for explaining the pandemic to them. Reading stories or watching shows that talk more about the Coronavirus can address some of your child’s possible fears in a fun way.
FredRogers.org offers some amazing resources for younger children, including an episode of Daniel Tiger focusing on the Coronavirus. There have also been several children’s books written already on the topic, like Paula and the Pandemic that you can purchase or look for at a local library.
Set a Positive Example
Children often look to parents and caregivers as they learn how to navigate through different situations. Make sure to avoid negative language when talking about the Coronavirus or following related precautions and model a positive attitude.
Focus on the positive and try making things fun for your kids! Let him or her pick out their favorite scent of hand sanitizer, or a mask with a print they love!
Returning to a “new normal” can be both exciting and difficult for kids to process. Help them navigate with these simple strategies!
Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP | Speech Pathologist
Proud Member of The Story Box Family