There are many things you can do to support your child during COVID-19 and as public health guidelines evolve. Below are some general tips on supporting your child as you and your family try to move forward with new norms in school, work and daily life. You will also find strategies on managing challenging behaviour that may arise during this time, as well as supporting children and youth with specific mental health challenges including anxiety and ADHD.
Tips for supporting your child:
- One of the most important things you can do is stay calm and confident. Children and youth react, in part, to what they see from their parents and other adults around them. Learn more about taking care of yourself during COVID-19 here.
- Maintain a family day that has structure and elements of their ‘normal’ routine (plan activities, meals, quiet time, exercise, and sleep). For younger children, a visual schedule with pictures can be helpful. For older children, try co-creating this schedule. Teens can be encouraged to create their own schedule with parent input.
- Continue to make time for some fun together (e.g. board games, cooking and eating meals together, arts and crafts) even if you notice your schedules gradually becoming more full with pre-pandemic activities.
- Give your children some extra time and attention. This could include some special one-on-one time during the day, or extra cuddles at the end of the day.
- Share with them your own strategies for dealing with stress so that your children can learn from you.
- Monitor and restrict your child’s access to media about COVID-19 – just like for adults, constant information can feel overwhelming and add to stress. If you are worried about your child’s use of technology during COVID-19 and would like to develop healthy tech habits at home, check out our podcast on Keeping Tech in Check.
- Stay connected, while keeping in mind the latest guidance on the safest ways to spend time with others. After all, social interactions are important to our well-being.
Managing challenging behaviours during COVID-19:
During this time, parents can expect to see some changes in their child’s behaviour. When children are stressed, it often comes out in their behaviour. This might look different depending on your child’s age, temperament, stress level, etc. Some common behaviour changes might include clinginess, getting upset more easily, withdrawing, being hyperactive, or having bad dreams. Some children might act ‘younger’ when they are stressed and may show behaviours from when they were younger (e.g. toileting accidents, bedwetting).
It’s OK and actually helpful for children when parents manage their behaviour in the way they normally would. This is another way that you can show a sense of “normal” for your child. This is also why taking care of yourself as a parent is important; you need energy and patience to help your child with their stress and behaviour.
Supporting children and youth with anxiety during COVID-19:
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth continue to cope with change. Routines like school, extracurricular activities, and socializing with friends are frequently being impacted, and child and youth with anxiety disorders may find it especially challenging to adjust.
For more information on supporting children and youth with anxiety disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our blog post here.
If your child is having anxiety-related challenges attending or staying in school, check out this webinar for parents and caregivers here.
Supporting children and youth with ADHD during COVID-19:
Raising a child with ADHD is challenging. With the disrupted routines and uncertainty of COVID-19, these challenges may be intensified for some families. Children and youth with ADHD are being asked to remember more rules, to move less, to engage in virtual learning and to spend less time with their peers.
For more information and tips on supporting children and youth with ADHD during COVID-19, check out our webinar here.