Tips to Assist COVID-19 Recovery in Children

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our daily life. People of all ages have experienced difficulty in processing and managing the impacts of COVID-19.
Children have individual differences in their response to Covid-19. Some children recover quickly, others may experience prolonged distress.

Signs and symptoms your child may experience from Covid-19 include:

• Increased anxiety and fear.
• Aggressive emotional outbursts.
• Trouble sleeping.
• Eating difficulties.
• Nightmares.
• Wanting to be extra close to a parent.
• wanting to return to a younger age (baby behaviour),
• tantrums,
• difficulty concentrating,
• withdrawal,
• difficulties reconnecting at childcare or school,
• concern about disasters,
• greater fatigue.

COVID-19 has created a change in family environments such as:

• Psychosocial well-being is disrupted due to isolation and restrictions.
• Job loses and income reduction affect children’s sense of safety and security.
• Children lose a sense of structure that is provided by childcare and school environments.
• A lack or limited connectivity with community and family create an insecure and anxious environment for children.
• Disruption in learning can affect future learning, and high levels of stress and isolation can affect brain development.

Tips to assist COVID-19 recovery in children:

• Explain to children new routines e.g. parents no longer catch the bus or are allowed to walk onto school grounds, or spend lengthy times in childcare drop off/pick up times.
• Explain the need for frequent hand washing.
• Explaining to children they may not be able to have a big birthday party this year.
• Role play what the changed situation may look like e.g. when they return to preschool / school.
• Let children know it is alright to feel sad and confused.
• Encourage children to express their feelings through craft activities and play.
• Give children extra doses of affection, and more playtime with adults. Young children need to understand age appropriate facts, and require lots of reassurance.
• Give children meaningful tasks such as gardening, cooking etc. This helps children feel in control.
• Parents require their own self-care so that they can respond to their children’s worries in an appropriate manner. Parents need to remain calm and continue a structured schedule where possible.
• It is advised children should not hear adult conversations about Covid19. Be aware of media exposure, as it can re-traumatise children.
• Children will mostly recover from these issues with the support of their families and preschool / school. If symptoms don’t decrease and or become more pronounced over time it may be advised to seek professional help .

Remember the 3rs: Reassurance – reassure your child that they are safe & secure; Regulation – validate your child’s feelings; Routines – provide a predictable and structured environment.
Focus on hope and positivity, teach you can overcome adversity

Robyn Taylor
BA(Macq), MA(Syd), Dip Clinical Psychology(Syd)