The new normal; Child development specialists offer coping tips for kids

Posted at 2:19 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 15:27:01-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The world we live in changed virtually overnight. There is nothing normal about the lives we’re all leading right now, and yes, the kids – even the little ones – have noticed. Child development specialists at the UK Children’s Hospital are trying to be proactive in their approach to managing the stress, and anxiety children might be coping with during these times.

“We’ve never gone through something like this before,” Ashlee Olson of Kentucky Children’s Hospital said. “We’re all learning together and it’s stressful and hard."

Olson and her colleague, Jenna Cook, were adamant about not sugarcoating the coronavirus issue. You don’t need to feel compelled to offer the gory details, but If kids ask specific questions about COVID-19, it is best to be honest with them when answering.

“Giving (them) that information is making sure that their fears are addressed, that their concerns are addressed and making sure they understand that they are safe,” Cook said.

In addition to stressing the importance of honesty, Olson and Cook said it’s a good idea to keep the kids occupied as much as possible during this period when they’re home from school. Outside-the-box-thinking works best, especially as you begin to run out of ideas.

“Don’t be afraid to take out the pots and pans, or to get messy,” Olson said. “Do something fun they might not usually get to do."

But above all, Cook and Olson want the parents of young children to remember one thing: “It’s okay to feel scared,” Olson said.

Just as it is for adult, kids are no different. They’re just not as equip to handle the stress, nor are they armed with the kind of information that might help them cope. Be careful to watch your own stress level around them.

“Kids feed off their parents’ stress, and that can cause them to stress too,” Olson noted.