This Library Guide was designed to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will find a Discussion Guide, Activities Guide, Acts of Kindness, Book recommendations with discussion and observation prompts, and a list of Community Helpers. This combination offers your family a variety of ways to understand COVID-19 and move forward in a healthy way. This kit is designed to start your journey of healing, but not to complete it. It is intended to be educational, not to replace the work of medical professionals.
When it comes to discussing scary situations with children, it’s best to keep it simple and be honest. Your children may have picked up pieces of COVID-19 information from your conversations with other adults, from school, and from friends. When all those pieces get put together, the scarier tidbits can take center stage in their minds. As adults, our role is to reassure our children. To assist your discussions as a family, try one of the topics below. We’ve written them in a way that will be simple enough to explain to your child. If you’d like more information, you can refer to any of the Resource Materials on this page. Remember, this discussion is just the beginning of your journey. Your family’s version of caring for yourselves and your loved ones will be unique. The other resources in this kit may be able to assist you as you move forward.
One of the best things we can do as adults is to show we are calm and prepared when it comes to COVID-19. Our children pick up on our behaviors, and if we show them we are not anxious because of the preparations we’re taking, they, too, will feel calm and prepared. Remember to use language that brings them comfort when talking with your children.
Here are our recommendations for following the guidelines created by the CDC:
Children are exceptionally empathic, and because of this, worrying about others with the virus can be very distressing for them. Among the best things we can give our children during times of distress are ways to take action and regain their power. (Public Broadcasting Service, 2015)
The following Preventive Activities will allow your child to “fight” the virus and protect themselves, their family, and their friends.
One of the things that makes COVID-19 tricky is that people don’t always show signs of being sick even when they have it! Because of that, people can accidentally make their friends or relatives sick. One way we can fight the virus and not let it spread from person to person is to stay a safe distance away from people we don’t live with. This means we can’t be in groups for a while. That’s why so many schools have closed. It also means churches, restaurants, concerts, and stores aren’t places we should go. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in situations where we have to be around other people. To do this safely we need to keep a distance of at least 6 feet from anyone who doesn’t live in our house. We aren’t sure how long we will need to stay at least 6 feet apart from people, since we're still learning a lot about COVID-19, so it’s best to check in with your state government or www.cdc.gov to get the most up-to-date recommendations.. It might be sad not to get to be up close with those people, but there are fun things we can do to hang out with them at a distance!
COUGHING AND SNEEZING SAFELY
If you have to cough, cough into your elbow, not your hands. After all, we use our hands to basically do everything, so we don’t want to cover them in germs!
If you sneeze, try to sneeze into a tissue that you then throw away. Using a tissue will prevent your germs from flying all over the place and trap them so you can throw them away. If you don’t have a tissue, you can also use your elbow. Don’t forget to wash your hands after you’ve thrown away that dirty tissue!
One of the best things we can do to fight a virus is to be as healthy as possible. This means eating healthy food, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and drinking water. It also means talking about what we’re feeling, taking quiet time when we need it, keeping our spaces clean, and participating in healthy activities that make us happy.
KEEPING YOUR HOME CLEAN
While keeping yourself clean is important, we also want to keep our environment clean. That means cleaning hard surfaces, but also things we might forget about cleaning that can also have a lot of germs on them: faucets, bathroom door handles, device screens, and keys.
The following are suggestions for types of helpers that may exist within your community. Some are resources for you to look up yourself, and others may be directly accessed.
You can call any kind of insurance provider to inquire whether telehealth services are covered for the service you need. For example, “Will counseling sessions using telehealth be covered? If so, what type of telehealth is covered? Are only video sessions covered? Are phone sessions covered at this time as well?” Please note, telehealth sessions may only be covered for a limited time, so you may want to ask what the coverage time is. Some companies are only providing telehealth coverage during peak pandemic months. If you do not have insurance coverage, there may be care providers who provide a sliding fee scale for services (continue reading for more information on this).
Therapists and Counselors
It is perfectly normal during times of distress for your child to experience a regression in behavior such as bedwetting (or other potty accidents), sleep disturbances, being more clingy, or having more emotional outbursts. (New York Times, 2020) They may also show signs of grief due to a variety of pandemic-related losses (i.e. loss of contact with loved ones while quarantined, change in daily routine, a loved one dying, etc.). (National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, 2016) Navigating what’s normal and what requires professional help can be confusing. If you’re concerned about your child, you can always contact a therapist or counselor. A counselor uses various approaches when working with children, often combining play therapy, art therapy, and/or traditional therapy methods (such as cognitive behavioral therapy). Counselors are sometimes called clinicians, clinical social workers, or therapists, but they are all professionals with advanced degrees who are working with clients on a treatment goal toward improved mental health. Therapists and counselors are available to work with:
To find a therapist or counselor, try Psychologytoday.com and use the “Find a therapist” tool. You can search for a therapist using filters such as location, their speciality, the age groups they work with, which insurances they take, etc. You will be provided a selection of therapists with business profiles you can read. Many profiles let you know whether the provider uses a sliding fee scale and/or if they provide telehealth options. Many providers are currently utilizing telehealth services. You may also find assistance locating mental health services at lower costs by calling 211.
211 and United Way
211 is the phone number of a hotline run by United Way where you can find information or assistance with the following:
Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741 or send them a Facebook message to be connected to a volunteer Crisis Counselor who will help you move from a “hot moment” to a “cool moment.”
Emergency Responders Should you have an emergency, these people can be reached via 911 to assist you in your emergency and get you or your loved one the care they need.
Teachers and Schools
If you have school-aged children, you’ve most likely added “homeschool teacher” to your resume in recent weeks. If the added responsibility of this has been hard on your family, reach out to your child's teacher for help. They may offer clarity on their expectations or tips for how to accomplish your goals. To learn more about engaging your student, Stanford’s Graduate School of Education has “gathered stories, activities, tips, and resources… that address issues facing educators and families now.” You can search based on your role (families or teachers) as well as by the age range of student you'd like to help (preschool, elementary, middle & high school): ed.stanford.edu/covid19
Support groups are popping up for:
These People May Include:
Asking questions isn’t just important for your kids, but for you as well. Utilize your time with these professionals by asking questions, asking for clarification if you don’t understand something they said, and identifying more resources.
Church or Religious Leaders
Many find that religious support can be a source of relief during times of distress. Though face-to-face meetings or visits to a house of worship are not advisable in these times, there are still ways to receive religious guidance. Even if you don’t consider yourself an active member, your religious community can offer support in a variety of ways. There are online streaming services for meditations or services, faith-based Instagram accounts being created, emails and texts being sent. (World Economic Forum, 2020) To find out how to engage with your faith-based community, call your place of worship to find out what they offer while you remain safely at home.
COVID-19 is the name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. A novel coronavirus is a coronavirus that we’ve never seen before. SARS-CoV-2 is hard to remember, so unofficially people have been referring to it as the “COVID-19 Virus.” (GoodRx, 2020)
COVID-19 is an acronym, or an abbreviated word that comes from the letters of several words. Here’s what it looks like if we break those words down:
COronaVIrus & Disease-19
CO - comes from Corona
VI - comes from Virus
D - comes from Disease
19 - is for the year the virus was reported, 2019
Coronaviruses are common in people. In fact, they’re what cause the common cold! However, some coronaviruses cause pneumonia, a serious lung infection. COVID-19 is one of the coronaviruses that causes pneumonia. (GoodRx, 2020)
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests reassuring your child that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus to better keep everyone safe. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020)
Children can reflect their feelings differently than adults. They may not know how to verbalize these feelings. Instead, they may express these things in the following ways, as listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website:
There are steps you should take if one of your family members doesn't feel well, especially if they're showing any of these symptoms of COVID-19 that have been reported in children by Johns Hopkins Medicine:
(Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020)
First, you’ll want to keep that family member apart from everyone else as much as possible.
Second, contact your medical provider for further instructions. If your child is showing any of the following emergency symptoms as identified by Johns Hopkins Medicine, you should seek emergency medical attention:
(Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020)
There is a LOT of information out there right now. As a caregiver, you’re probably experiencing information overload, but still want to do the best job possible for your family. The Healing Library has put together the following options to continue your reading and get ideas for considerate parenting during this time: