Families across the U.S. face realities of COVID-19 pandemic
As the new coronavirus pandemic continues to take hold of the United States, more and more families find themselves in quarantine and isolation. For children, this situation can be scary at worst and boring at best.
Rachel Simmons, a parenting expert and contributor for "Good Morning America," has these tips to help parents quell quarantined children's fears and keep them occupied:
Simmons said giving children structure makes them feel safe.
This means maintaining usual meal and sleep times as well as involving the kids in creating a new daily plan. Ask your child: How do you want to spend your day?
"And remember, they're making a big transition at home, and so we can keep that sense of stability by telling them there's a certain time we wake up and just because they don't like it doesn't mean it's not good for them," Simmons told GMA.
Spend an hour doing some kind of moment, such as crafting or cooking. Giving kids the power to choose this activity is also important.
In preparation, start following mommy bloggers like Susie Allison, a.k.a. @busytoddler on Instagram, for easy DIY crafts to keep the kids entertained. Hashtags like #indooractivities and #playtolearn are also great for inspiration.
To avoid having kids and teens spend hours on their iPhones and Xboxes, create a system that lets kids earn their screen time.
"What about saying, 'Look, here's the vacuum, you take care of the living room, and you can have like 20 minutes of Minecraft,'" Simmons said.
Although kids should be pitching in as a part of the family, this rewards system gives them a chance to develop some independence.
Simmons also advised parents to remain positive and look on the bright side.
"Keep your sense of humor intact. Put your oxygen mask on first," she said. "Ask for help when you need it. Talk to other parents, get help, and remember that this could be a hidden opportunity for parents because we often spend too much time entertaining our children."
Child psychologist Dr. Jonathan Kratter said the last thing a parent should tell a child who's expressed concern over the coronavirus is "don't worry."
"When parents tell their kids, 'Just don't worry about it, it won't affect you, it won't bother you,' kids feel like they're not being heard," he said. "What's better is to say, 'Tell me what you're worried about? What have you heard in school? What are the kids saying?' And then together, they can explore what's real, what's not real."
Dr. Kratter said parents should be checking in with their children often regarding what they are hearing about the coronavirus.
"One time at the dinner table isn't enough because it's a constant source of news lately," he said.
In addition to Simmons's tips, the American Academy of Pediatrics offered these ideas to help keep kids occcupied:
If you need an at-home activity that's both fun and educational, consider gardening. Good Housekeeping's Lori Bergamotto recently joined "Good Morning America" to share some fun tips for the whole family to use to help get their garden ready for spring.