Child psychiatrist gives advice for parents on how to talk with, plan for kids during COVID-19 outbreak

Child psychologist gives recommendations on how to be part of the solution

MADISON, Wis. — Monday is the first day that kids are home from school and parents are may be wondering how to manage their time and talk to them about everything that’s going on surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

Child psychiatrist at UW Health, Marcia Slattery has helpful recommendations.

Slattery said many people are feeling anxious because no one knows what’s going to happen. She said people are hearing about the negative outcomes and it feels like there is nothing we can do.

“We have a loss of control and no predictability about what’s going to happen,” she said.

Slattery added that the loss of schedules and loss of our daily routines that helped anchor us every day and provided us with predictability and safety have now been removed.

Slattery says parents should first talk to their kids about what’s happening.

“Provide them with the facts, but don’t overdo it,” she said. Slattery said when we are around people who are anxious and panicked, it naturally makes us feel anxious and panicked. Slattery said we need to be strong for our kids right now and show them we can be part of the solution.

Slattery also recommends listening to your kids and asking them what they know about COVID-19.
“Ask them what do they know about this? What are their friends telling them? Because that will give you an idea of what they understand, what they’re processing. Give them a sense that you’re listening and you’re validating what they’re saying.”

Slattery recommended several things when coming up with a daily routine for your kids at home:

  1. Make sure your kids are getting out and getting some fresh air.
  2. Make sure your kids are keeping up with school exercises, like reading.
  3. Build in positive activities to the daily routine.
  4. Practice social distancing.
  5. Limit screen time and time spent on social media.
  6. Balance any negative thoughts or events in the day with some positive ones.
  7. Normalize the schedule you create.