COVID-19: Helping Your Child Cope
October 8, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic and resultant adaptations have brought about considerable changes in daily life for kids across California. It can be difficult to know how to help children cope.
Homeschooling or “distance learning” is very hard on families for any number of reasons. Younger children require nearly constant supervision and redirection to maintain their attention and stay on task completing schoolwork, and in many families, all the adults in the household must work outside the home for economic reasons. With such constraints in mind, there are some things families can do to make schooling at home a little easier. Try to set aside a specific location to “do school” at home. It is important for kids to have a sense of boundary to put them in the frame of mind to engage in school tasks. Remember that home is the “wrong” environment with the “wrong” visual and behavioral cues for school, which is especially challenging.
If possible, have younger children (pre-school age) go to another room while older children are engaged in schoolwork and lessons. Reward your school-aged youngsters with snacks and fun break time activities for completing their schoolwork assignments, time studying for tests, or completing larger, longer-term tasks like reports and presentations.
Finally, consider some upsides to the intense, intentional time with your kids. Think about what you do have time to teach them. This is a great time to share activities with your kids, such as planting a fall garden together or rebuilding a car engine with your teenager. You can also teach essential life skills to older kids that will serve them later, such as cooking or doing laundry. Despite all the downsides to the pandemic, it’s worth thinking about how to make the most of the increased family time. Keeping your relationships as high quality as you can and making family time as rewarding as possible will translate to a high quality of life, more fun, and less stress for you and your kids, even in these stressful times!
About the Author: Patrick Shea, MD, is a child and adolescent psychiatry expert who provides services at University Psychiatry Associates. Dr. Shea holds a faculty appointment with University of California, San Francisco in the UCSF Fresno Department of Psychiatry.
For more information about Dr. Shea and University Psychiatry Associates, please click here.