COVID-19 resources for parents and children

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Parenting during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families in different ways and can be stressful for everyone. Parents, caregivers and children are facing new challenges as the pandemic affects our daily work and home routines. Many schools, daycares and most workplaces have closed, and children and parents are suddenly at home full-time more often. Even though we're all trying our best, adjusting to these new challenges has created new stresses for families.

During this time, parents might be worried about their child's development and if they're reaching developmental milestones. When parents and caregivers are stressed, it becomes more difficult for them to meet the physical, mental and emotional needs of their children.

The guidance below can help parents and caregivers adjust to this new and unexpected situation.

Activities for children

Use these activities to teach your child about what they can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

We also have COVID-19 resources for youth and students.

Other educational topics

Use these resources to teach your child about other topics:

Helping children cope

Parents and caregivers play a key role in influencing their child's development and are in the best position to:

What you do and how you respond to your child affects the way they think, feel, act, develop and learn. Loving, consistent, and positive relationships help protect your child from the negative effects of stress.

Recognize changes in your child's behavior

Make note of how your child's behavior has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone expresses stress differently. Common signs of stress in children include:

When babies and young children experience and express their stress, they may act distracted, anxious or appear uninterested in what's going on. Young children may have tantrums or hyperactivity.

Be responsive

Parents and caregivers play an important role in helping their child cope with stress and make them feel safe.

Tailor your expectations

When introducing new experiences or challenges, be lenient, especially when your child is upset. Often, when a young child displays challenging or emotional behavior, it's their way of telling you they need happy time with you.

Create opportunities for quality one-on-one time with each child

Whenever possible, have one-on-one time with your child. This makes children feel loved and secure, and shows them that they're important.

Help your child stay virtually connected

Children should stay connected with their friends, neighbours and extended family members through:

This can be a reassuring way for them to interact with people they love.

Create a flexible but consistent daily routine

Involve your children in creating a daily routine. Asking for their input and allowing them to make decisions helps build their self-confidence. Set up a schedule that includes structured activities, physical activity as well as free time. This can help children feel more secure.

Play and engage with your children

It helps them to learn, express their feelings and build their self-confidence. Spend time with your children by taking part in their preferred activities. If you're not in quarantine or isolation, get fresh air while keeping a distance of least 2 metres from other people.

Name your feelings

Talking about emotions and why they're happening can be helpful to you and your child. It will help:

Be kind, calm and patient

Listen to your child's concerns

Acknowledge and validate their thoughts and feelings. Be honest, open and supportive. Provide clear, factual information in a reassuring and age-appropriate way. Ask them how they're feeling. Let them know you're there for them.

Encourage positive behaviours

Children are much more likely to do what's asked if they're given positive instructions and praise for their efforts.

Be a positive role model

Model healthy and positive behaviours. Children learn almost everything by watching what other people do.

Model self-regulation as best you can by taking a deep breath, keeping calm and speaking to your child in a positive manner.

Your child will soon learn to also be calm and use reason when they want or need something.

Reassure your child

Sometimes, seeing adults upset or frustrated can be frightening to a child. They may worry that the adults are mad at them.

To help a child feel secure, it's important to reassure them that the adult's negative emotions stem from something other than them.

Take steps to calm down before you react

Children may respond to stress and anxiety by acting out. They need you the most when they're misbehaving.

Resources for children

It's normal for you or your children to feel overwhelmed, stressed, confused, scared or angry during this time.

The following resources can be shared with your child:

Returning to school

It may be challenging for children to adapt to a structured school routine after months of physical distancing at home. Parents can prepare kids for a return to the classroom by:

Staying connected

Gathering limits and restrictions vary across the country. Follow your local public health authority's advice about in-person visits and specific requirements for your community.

It's always safest to keep physically distancing. You and your child can stay connected with family, friends and neighbours through:

Take care of yourself

Self-care is important

Parents and caregivers take better care of their children when they take care of themselves, too.

Eat well, get enough rest, take breaks and do something fun or relaxing.

Be kind to yourself.

Some individuals may use substances, such as alcohol and cannabis, as a way to cope with stress and anxiety during difficult times. However, substance use presents potential health risks and can negatively impact your mental health and wellbeing. If you use substances, do your best to minimize the amount and frequency that you consume. Try to avoid using substances around children.

Know your limits

Don't immediately rush back to work or chores when your child is:

Take a moment to yourself and recharge. It will help you:

Connect virtually with others

You're not alone.

Find support and relieve stress by talking about your feelings and concerns with your friends and family. Talking to others about your emotions can help you respond to, process and address them better.

Recompose yourself

Practise a 1-minute mindfulness activity.

Notice:

This will help you relax and feel grounded.

Support is available

Although many local services are closed to in-person visits during the pandemic, many are offering other forms of programming for parents and families. Try contacting local services, such as your local:

Ask about ways they can support you so you feel better equipped to respond to your child's emotional needs.

Information for parents

Find resources with advice for parents.

Parenting during COVID-19
For Indigenous peoples

Hope for Wellness Helpline offers mental health counselling and crisis intervention for Indigenous peoples across Canada.

Provincial, territorial and community-based resources
Vaccines and immunizations
Financial help
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