Riley Children's Health Entrance
PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis

Keeping Kids Calm and Helping Them Carry On

INDIANAPOLIS–The plans to stop the spread of coronavirus have caused the closure of businesses and are limiting travel. You’re being seriously inconvenienced, or at the very worst you’re out of a job. And the kids can’t go to school. They can sense the anxiety and the school situation can be stressful.

“They’re gonna be hearing words in the news that are new,” said Child Life Specialist Abigail Rainey, at Riley Children’s Health. “So, coronavirus, COVID 19, isolation, quarantine, all of those are words that are not in their everyday language.”

LISTEN: WIBC stories on advice from children’s health care professionals

She said kids need help understanding what those words mean and their context and that it can be easier coming from a trusted adult like a parent or caregiver.

Rainey also said that play is important, even though the kids’ home life now includes class time.

“We know that play can help them cope,” she said. “You might see that they are asking questions more easily while they are playing. It also gives them an escape from these different things that are happening around them and it makes them engage in something that’s normal for them.”

Rainey said keep the conversations open and make sure they understand what you are saying.

“Have you heard about coronavirus or COVID 19? Tell me what you know. And, from there you can assess what they know, what information they already have and address misconceptions.”

She said younger kids may have trouble understanding what coronavirus is, but they can grasp the importance of washing hands and covering coughs.

Kristin Wikel, an educator at Riley, stressed the importance of keeping a routine, even under the unusual circumstances.

“Getting up, having breakfast, logging on, doing their school work. Make sure you keep that routine available for your child. That way it promotes both their physical health and mental at the same time,” she said.

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