Helping Kids Cope with Covid-19

By Dr. Robin Cox

In the face of the COVID-19 crises, many parents, teachers, and care givers are wondering how best to support children and youth manage and maintain their physical and psychological well-being in the context of social isolation and distancing, closed schools, and the underlying anxiety and fear that the pandemic is generating. Children’s experiences of other disasters have taught us that the disruption and stress associated with disasters can have long-term implications and that children and youth may be more vulnerable to the emotional impact of stressful and traumatic events and the disruption and loss of routines that they often inspire.

Children and youth, even very young children, will take their cues from the adults around them, picking on the stress and anxiety, reacting to the loss of routines, predictability, and in the case of this virus, the loss of opportunities to play and hang out with friends. In this context, it is important to find ways to help kids stay busy, and to express and make sense of what they are feeling and thinking and observing. Art – creative expression – is one of those way. Give most children some art supplies and the space to be creative and they will jump in and parents are already sharing some of the COVID art their kids are creating. Art can provide opportunities for expressing what is difficult, or depending on a child’s age, impossible to express through words. Art can also be a way of processing feelings and thoughts and can open a door for parents to explore some of those emotions, answer questions, and just connect.