Are Your Kids Feeling the Stress of COVID-19?
Mar 17, 2020 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Fear of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is spreading as quickly as the virus itself. And while fewer children have come down with the virus, they are very much tuned into the stress and fear around them.
"Kids will model what the parents give them, so if the parents are getting anxious and anxiety is taking over, the kids will do that," says Jonathan Vickburg, mental health supervisor of the Cedars-Sinai Share & Care program.
The program helps children suffering from trauma and stress. He says it's important to talk to your kids about the virus in an age-appropriate fashion.
"For kids, when you're talking about washing your hands, maybe you sing happy birthday as you're washing your hands with them," Jonathan says. "For older kids, if they want to know more information, maybe you go to CDC website together and look at that.
"But don't stick there. It's really important that after you give this information, you get back to some normalcy."
At the Blitz family home in Los Angeles, like many other homes, extracurricular activities and large play dates are canceled. But the sisters are lucky—they have each other and the dog to play with. They are well aware of the virus, and they are up on all the cleanliness rules.
"Wash your hands with soap and use Purell a lot. Don't touch your eyes, nose, mouth or ears," they say.
The kids are relaxed and calm. Their parents have included them in the family conversation.
"I think it's important for the kids to see that we don't always know exactly how to respond. We need to think about it and discuss it and make intelligent decisions," says parent Moshe Blitz.
That's key, says Jonathan, who urges that families take advantage of the sudden and forced togetherness.
"Humor is really helpful," he says. "Having dinner together, talking about something else besides all those things that are scary can be really helpful. We have an opportunity to model to our kids that this is different, but this is our plan."