COVID_19: Emotional Impact and how to deal with it: Children 0-5 Years Old
Over the next few months (o-3months) we will observe many reactions that means we are all adjusting to the new reality in the world, in our lives and more specifically in our families. And although these reactions are normal given the situation, they serve our attention and they mean we need to reinforce self-care at this stage. With some self-care tips they tend to minimize and we will easily get into balance, on the other hand, if we ignore them, they tend to “scream louder” from normal reactions to intense or sick reactions that prevent us from functioning as before.
REACTIONS AND WHAT TO DO:
Helplessness, passivity and generalized fear are very common.
Distorted ideas, for example, not understanding that the immediate danger is over, believing that death or illness is a punishment for “misbehaved”.
Difficulty in perceiving and explaining their discomfort, being able to manifest what is happening through restless, tantrum and implicative or apathetic behaviors, such as stop talking.
Assign magical qualities to people or events.
Sleep disorders (night terrors, nightmares, fear of being alone at night)
Anxious attachment (holding on more, not wanting to be away from caregivers)
Regressive symptoms (sucking their Thumb, baby talk, peeing in bed, not sleeping alone)
How to deal with it:
Explain what COVID is, how it apears in our lives and houes and what everyone can do at home to feel safe. Clear, concrete and age-adjusted information. There are many materials available and even games to help the child wash their hands. The most important thing is to reinforce the idea that the child is safe and that everyone will take care of each other.
Provide art supplies and toys for children. Its easier for younger children to express their feelings through play and art and not through words.
Reinforce the child’s Emotionary is usefull. As they often do not know how to express what they feel, it is extremely important and useful to verbalize possible emotions and feelings after disasters (for example, anger, sadness, fear, worry, frustration) For example: “children generally feel sad because they cannot go school, they miss their friends, their grandparents, to go and play, fear that grandparents will get sick “
Give your child more quality time and peace of mind at bedtime. Let him sleep with a light on or in his parents’ room for a limited time, if necessary. After a period of time, return to routine sleep patterns.
Provide consistent care and guarantees (for example, when they can return to school).
Try to spend quality family time. There are many fun activities you can do at this time of union.
Offering support, rest, comfort, food, opportunities to play and draw the presence of calm and supportive adult caregivers is a great emotional band aid for this moment.
Whenever you notice any of these warning signs, signal them and remember that they are normal, that everything will return to normal with time.
Avoid criticizing or embarrassing your child’s behavior for the regressive behaviors you may have. Protect children from the media.
They can cause worry and distortion of messages. Establish a family routine or at least an anchor point when family members are together during the day. For example, having daily time to play, talk, talk about everyone’s concerns and expectations, joint goals for quarantine.