Helping our children navigate the COVID-19 crisis

By Dr. Jessica Brown, MPH

The world around us has shifted and things are vastly different than they were even just a few months ago. It is scary, I understand. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting thousands of people, families are being asked to stay in their homes for extended periods of time. Thank you for doing so!

When you have children, this can be an especially nerve-wracking time. Your Legacy Community Health Providers have not forgotten about you. In fact, I hope this message can help bring some ease to your lives. Here are a few basic tips for staying home safely with young children:

Maintain a routine.

Young children thrive on routine. It doesn’t have to exactly mimic your previous routine nor does it have to be exactly down to the minute.  Providing structure during the day will help your little ones know what to expect. It will also decrease tantrums and frustrations for the whole family.

Talk to your children about their feelings.

That same sense of nervousness you may be feeling is likely happening to your children. Think about it. All of a sudden they’ve stopped going to school, seeing their friends, riding their bikes to the store down the road, and even having regular outings with the family. It can be very distressing to children and they may not even understand why it is happening.

Create a safe space for kids to talk about their feelings.

Many parents find their children sad, scared or lonely during these uncertain times. There are ways to help lift their moods. For example, consider virtual playdates or going on a drive (while you stay in the car, of course). If you notice you or your child feel more withdrawn or depressed and are having a difficult time, please consider contacting Legacy Community Health about our behavioral health services. Pediatric behavioral health telehealth services are now available so you and your children don’t even have to leave home.

Limit news exposure.

This is good rule of thumb for adults and children alike. It is okay to be informed, but there’s some evidence that chronic exposure to news can be linked to a higher feeling of anxiety and fear. Consider limiting your news consumption to an hour a day.

When doing schoolwork at home, give yourself some grace.

Teachers are invaluable leaders in our communities and are specially trained to teach students every day. Most parents didn’t get the same training, and that is okay. Build a time for schoolwork into your schedule but consider limiting it to 2-3 hours a day. This can better help parents to take tackle teaching goals in smaller sessions. It can also be very beneficial for parents who are also working from home while “conducting classes.”

Also, if you have a child with special educational needs, send a message to their teacher to learn any tips they’ve used in the classroom. Once “traditional” schoolwork is complete, think about extended learning. Explore your backyard and ask your child to identify different plants or insects. Have them write a story about a favorite memory. Have them follow a recipe and make something in the kitchen so they’re learning units of measurement. The possibilities are endless.

Currently, Legacy Pediatric Providers recommend only well child in-clinic visits (check-ups) for children 12 months old and younger. All other ages will be rescheduled until further notice. To protect patients and staff, we are asking families consider telehealth visits to limit foot traffic within our clinics. We have a team of providers ready and able to assist for many other needs including: rashes, colds, medication refills, influenza concerns, weight issues, and behavior health. We have our triage nurses to help you figure out what is best. Thank you for making Legacy your family’s medical home. Stay safe!