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Valencia Family Resource Library Guide: Coping with COVID-19

Welcome

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.

Also in this Guide, don't forget to visit our:

Discussing COVID-19 with Children

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.

How to Support your Child

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:

  • Create time to have discussions with your child. These discussions could be about COVID-19, or they could be about emotions, both theirs and yours.
  • Reassure your child they are safe. Let them know it’s ok to feel upset. Share with them how you deal with stress so they can learn positive strategies from you.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to coverage of COVID-19 including the news and social media to reduce misunderstandings. Newscasts are not designed for children and can be frightening or confusing. If you have older children, talk about what they’re seeing and correct any misinformation.
  • Keep up with regular routines. Not necessarily the way things were before the outbreak, but a new schedule that allows time for learning, playing, conversation, and expression.
  • Be a role model. You, yourself also need good rest, healthy food, exercise, breaks, and socialization. 

Prevention

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.

WASHING HANDS

  • Whenever we’ve been outside of our house, have used the bathroom, are about to eat, or are going to leave our house, we should wash our hands.
  • Here’s how to wash your hands properly:
  • Take off any rings, bracelets, watches, or jewelry. These get in the way of your soap doing its job.
  • Wet your hands with cold, lukewarm, or warm water. (Not overly hot water, though. Drying your hands out from water that’s too hot can cause cracks on your hands that could lead to infections.) Wetting your hands lets the soap dissolve and do a better job tackling germs.  
  • Time for soap! You want to use enough soap to build a good lather. The COVID-19 Virus is wrapped in a membrane that can be broken up by soap, leaving the particles inside unable to infect you. You want your lather to last the full 20 seconds of scrubbing, so if you need to add more soap, that’s okay.
  • Let’s scrub! You’ll want to scrub for at least 20 seconds. Some people sing Happy Birthday twice to time it right, other people sing the whole way through the ABC’s song. No matter what you like, the most important thing is that you’re scrubbing all the parts of your hands:
    • Your palms
    • The backs of your hands
    • Your fingertips and under your nails
    • Between your fingers
    • Your thumbs
  • Rinse off all the soap and with it the dirt and germs that were on your hands.
  • Turn off the faucet with your elbow or a hand towel if you’re at home or with a paper towel if you’re out in public. You turned the faucet on when your hands had germs all over them, don’t get those germs all over you again when you turn it off! (Moms or Dads should regularly clean faucets so germs don’t stick around.)
  • Dry off with a paper towel (if you’re out in public) or a hand towel is fine if you’re at home. Every few days you’ll want to wash your hand towels to keep them clean for your now sweet smelling, freshly scrubbed hands. If anyone in your house isn’t feeling well, they should use their own personal hand towel.
  • Finally, use another part of your body or a paper towel to touch the doorknob on your way out of a restroom. Germs like to hang out on doorknobs. (National Public Radio, 2020)

SOCIAL DISTANCING

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!

  • Video Hang Outs - Of course you can arrange to video chat with friends and family members, but you can also take it a step further. Have a picnic together, read bedtime stories, play dress up, do some karaoke, or whatever creative ideas your child may have to make this even more engaging.
  • Organize Your Neighborhood - Maybe you want to decorate the sidewalks with chalk drawings to uplift one another, maybe you want to play music together from your apartment windows, or maybe you can create a scavenger hunt from your windows that changes each week. As human beings, we are creative, innovative, and filled with beauty. Sharing that can happen from 6 foot distances and beyond.

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!

STAYING HEALTHY

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.

  • Keeping your room clean for your parents will help. Make sure your dirty clothes are separate from your clean clothes and that any soft toys you love are getting washed regularly. Changing your bedding will help too! Lots of us don’t know it, but we drool in our sleep. And you know what’s in drool, right? Yup, more germs.
  • Also, consider taking your shoes off inside your house. Choose one designated spot where shoes will “live,” take them off when you get inside, and store them there. After all, they do the hard work of touching the ground for us everywhere we go, and we don’t need to track any extra germs into our nice clean homes by walking around in them. 

Community Helpers

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.

Telehealth Services

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:

  • Parents
  • Children
  • Families

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:

  • supplemental food and nutrition programs
  • shelter and housing options and utilities assistance
  • emergency information and disaster relief
  • employment and education opportunities
  • services for veterans
  • health care, vaccination and health epidemic information
  • addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs
  • reentry help for ex-offenders
  • support groups for individuals with mental illnesses or special needs
  • a safe, confidential path out of physical and/or emotional domestic abuse (211, 2020)
    • If dialing 211 does not work, go to 211.org to find your local number

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.”

  • US: Text HOME to 741741
  • CA: Text HOME to 686868
  • UK: Text HOME to 85258
  • Their website: crisistextline.org/
  • To send a Facebook message: messenger.com/t/crisistextline

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

Support groups are popping up for:

  • Families
  • Students
  • Parents
  • Location specific
  • Perform a web search or contact your local library or United Way for assistance

Medical Providers

These People May Include:

  • Primary care providers
  • Pediatricians
  • Hospital staff

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.

The Healing Library

Free eBooks

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Visit our Books Related to COVID-19 page for access to free eBooks and read-alouds of stories that can help children get through this challenging time.

Healing Activities

Visit our Healing Activities page for projects that can be done in your home with items found around the house.

Sesame Street's Grover On Coping During Coronavirus: Just For Kids

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What is COVID-19?

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)

Common Reactions from your Child

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:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toilet accidents, or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors 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 

If Someone Isn't Feeling Well

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:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea

(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:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to keep down any liquids
  • New confusion or inability to awaken  
  • Bluish lips

(Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020)

Further Resources

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:

Librarian

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Adam Johnson
Contact:
Valencia College Winter Park Campus Library
(407) 582-6814

Thank You

Selected material adapted from THE HEALING LIBRARY: COVID-19

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