This resource has been developed and shared by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Children and youth react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them if they are better prepared.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviours they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and "acting out" behaviours in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are many things you can do to support your child:
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or youth can understand.
- Reassure your child or youth that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family's exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. Create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities. See below for ideas.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
Structure, consistency and predictability are very important for children and youth, especially during times of crisis. Keeping a simple routine every day helps meet these needs while there is no school. A routine for at home might include the following ideas. How long you allow for each thing will depend on the age of your child. For older youth, you may want to request they accomplish 3-4 things each day and give them more choice on what that will look like.
- Sleep and wake at consistent times each day – keep times similar to what they would typically have during the week and weekend.
- Plan healthy meals and snacks – healthy food keeps our immune system strong and our moods more stable
- Exercise – think outdoors, fresh air, yoga for relaxation, or go online to find a free class. Many gyms are offering online videos for free, a lot can be found on YouTube. Here is one resource with Alo Yoga you may want to check out.
- A project - something that spans several days can give children and youth something to look forward to, give them purpose, and be grounding. Ideas to consider include a puzzle, arts & crafts, Lego, researching a topic of interest; reading a chapter book together and talking about it, or learning a musical instrument.
- Education – while school is out, look for opportunities for your child or youth to use their minds to continuing learning. This might include things like reading, math work sheets, zoos that have online activities (i.e., San Diego), documentaries, Ted talks, Scholastic kids, learning apps, Raz kids, and online public library resources. Ask your child what they are interested in learning
about as a starting point.
- Chores – jobs give children a sense of purpose and remind them that they have an important role to fill in keeping the family home running
- Down time – unstructured time is important too and might include free play or colouring for younger children; for older children and youth consider board games or card games.
- Screen time – Canadian Pediatric Association recommends no more than 2 hours each day. As parents feel pressure to manage their children’s time with limited opportunities for entertainment, these rules may be loosened but there should still be limits.
Resources for helping children to manage stress with COVID-19:
Resources for parents/caregivers to manage stress with COVID-19:
Consider choosing limited places to get your information from. This can help reduce anxiety. Up to date and reliable information regarding COVID-19 can be found at: