Slowing Down, from the Fred Rogers April 2022 newsletter
March 19, 2020
Caring for our Mental Health in the Face of a Pandemic
In these uncertain and unprecedented times we are facing as a community, it is important to care for the mental health of our children and of ourselves. Below are some resources and ideas.
Overall, please know (and remind yourselves and your children often!) that there is no “right” way to forge through these days. It is more than okay to have good days and bad days. It is okay for children to feel fearful, confused, or frustrated. It is okay for parents to have those same feelings. You do not need to pretend that all is well in a world where, right now, all is not well. This is a time to teach your children how to work through unexpected changes and big challenges. It is a time to allow expectations to be fluid and routines to be ever-changing. It is a time for all of us to build our resiliency. Remember, we are all wading these uncertain waters together, and this is not “easy” or “normal” for anyone, in fact, the disruption can be considered a trauma for all of us. So, be sure to care for your minds and souls as we work through protecting our physical health as a community.
How to Talk to Your Children about COVID-19
- This site offers tips to talk to your children about coronavirus on a developmentally appropriate level, broken down by age
- For the younger child: PBS Kids has some helpful hints on how to talk to your younger child about coronavirus as well as some episode links on healthy habits (handwashing, being sick, etc.)
- For the school-aged child: check out this video from Nurse Alison about the words: coronavirus, pandemic, and social distancing.
- For the child or teen who experiencing stress or anxiety regarding COVID-19, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America is an excellent resource for how to approach those feelings.
Practice Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement
- Headspace has a section in their app called Weathering the Storm filled with free guided meditations, sleep and movement exercises.
- The Women’s Meditation Network provides a meditation specifically for coronavirus.
- Positive Psychology offers a wealth of resources for practicing mindfulness with children.
- Down Dog, Yoga app is completely free until April 1 and has yoga, barre, and HIIT exercises. Do them together as a family for an excellent mental health boost.
Helping Children and Parents Cope
- The CDC offers some excellent resources for helping children process emergencies.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides guidance specifically for coronavirus, as well as trauma in general.
- This blog from Psych Central gives several practical coping strategies for social distancing and managing stress during the coronavirus outbreak.
If you or your children are experiencing a mental health crisis, please utilize these resources or reach out to your pediatrician or primary care provider for guidance.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.