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Conquering COVID-19: 8 Ways Nurses and Parents Can Help Kids Cope

Disasters Article   (641 Views | 6 Replies | 941 Words)
by jeastridge jeastridge, BSN, RN (Trusted Brand) Trusted Brand Writer Expert Nurse

jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 114 Articles; 151,021 Profile Views; 460 Posts

How Can You Help Kids Understand COVID-19?

As families find themselves working from home, or unemployed and at home, children are sometimes caught in the middle of times of high stress.

Conquering COVID-19: 8 Ways Nurses and Parents Can Help Kids Cope
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“I am so sad,” my four-year-old granddaughter said. Her words made my heart ache as I hugged her. Why are you sad, honey?” I asked, knowing full well why she was so sad. Her little world had been turned upside down by the novel coronavirus. The predictable routine of pre-school, playdates, birthday parties, outings had been replaced by prolonged stays at home and prohibitions against reaching out to other children or adults not in her quarantine circle.

When I talked with my daughter-in-law, Mary Beth Wierman Eastridge, she agreed with me that we could work on a project together to write and illustrate a book for children to help them and their families understand and cope with the virus. We set ourselves an ambitious timeline and were able to complete the project and get it out as a free download: eastridges.com/covid.

I am a Parish Nurse or Faith Community Nurse in my town. As such, I work with all ages, but now that I am a grandmother I have a special interest in children and young people. Working within the faith community during this trying time involves answering questions, guiding people to accurate information, helping parishioners cope with diseases unrelated to COVID-19, praying for them, and listening.

Caring for our littlest ones, even babies, is particularly hard. As families find themselves working from home, or unemployed and at home, children are sometimes caught in the middle of times of high stress. How can we help our kids? What can nurses do to be a resource?

Provide age-appropriate materials.

When our granddaughter asked, “What is a virus?” It was tempting to go into a long, scientific monologue, something that would surely go right over her head and probably not be helpful at all. Instead, by sharing this book with her, we can talk about answers she might understand: “teeny, tiny” and “invisible.” This is challenging in a time when materials are still under development. With the suddenness of onset of this crisis, we all find ourselves looking around for ways to help.

Listen first.

When children ask questions, they often want to know less rather than more. Listen first and zero in on what exactly he/she is asking and then try to answer as clearly and as succinctly as possible.

Keep the routine.

Children often value and thrive on routine. They like to know what to expect. We laugh in normal times when they want to watch the same movie over and over or wear the same favorite sweatshirt. But these childhood characteristics become even more pronounced during times of change, illness and high stress. Anything we can do as nurses to promote a routine, to let kids know what to expect, and to allow for “sameness” will help children who find the ground is shifting under their feet.

Set an example- Children follow and mimic well.

They learn how to cope by watching the people around them cope. A calm adult, who shows competence, can help a child survive the unpredictability of a stormy time. What do you do if you don’t feel calm? Refrain from falling apart in front of the child. While this is easier said than done, don’t underestimate the impact of your attitude on those around you, especially the little ones.

Nutrition and sleep 

Children need nourishing foods and good sleep—this much is obvious, so why even point it out? In times of crisis, it is tempting to cut corner and let mealtime go or allow children excessive snacking, less napping and more screen time. Without a doubt, screen time if preferable to screaming time, so if it is a choice between the two, the answer is easy. Setting aside consistent “quiet times” can help with the routine and also give the parent/caregiver some down time to recuperate their own energies. When children feel stressed, they will often react by having “bad dreams” and waking up frequently. While this is normal, it can add to the disruption the family is already experiencing. Reassuring the child and their family that this will pass, can make it more bearable.

Set boundaries  

Setting boundaries—even if kids don’t like them—makes them feel secure. As nurses, we can help families understand and implement maintainable boundaries. Granted, this is not always possible, but we can encourage others and lead the way.

Exercise

It is a known fact that kids have a lot more energy than adults do. This can be a particular challenge during a time of quarantine and limited availability of outside play. Some parents are employing creative strategies to help their little ones get out some of their energy in constructive ways. There are dance parties, yoga classes for kids, relay games and a host of other productive ideas.

Watch for abuse

When parents/caregivers are under stress and kids are acting out, we see a possible set-up for abuse. As nurses, let’s be particularly alert to the possibility of abuse and try to intervene before it happens.

COVID-19 has brought nurses again to the forefront of the national battle for health. We are on the frontlines in so many ways, including with our own families.

What ideas do you have for helping kids cope during this time of COVID-19?

 

Free Download Conquering COVID-19

Joy Eastridge

BSN, RN, Faith Community Nurse

5 Followers; 114 Articles; 151,021 Profile Views; 460 Posts

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tnbutterfly - Mary is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

14 Followers; 139 Articles; 5,599 Posts; 202,120 Profile Views

Joy, thanks for writing and sharing this e-book for kids.  I LOVE the illustrations - so appropriate for kids (and parents too).  I will be sharing this with my 2 small grandchildren who have been under lockdown with their parents for almost 3 months in NYC.

From 1 grandmother to another - Thanks for thinking of the kids!

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jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 114 Articles; 460 Posts; 151,021 Profile Views

Just now, tnbutterfly - Mary said:

Joy, thanks for writing and sharing this e-book for kids.  I LOVE the illustrations - so appropriate for kids (and parents too).  I will be sharing this with my 2 small grandchildren who have been under lockdown with their parents for almost 3 months in NYC.

From 1 grandmother to another - Thanks for thinking of the kids!

Thanks! I am so glad you like the artwork. Mary Beth did a great job. I hope your grandchildren like it, too, and that many children will find it helpful. Joy

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Kitiger has 40 years experience as a RN and specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics.

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May I put this out on face book?

 

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jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 114 Articles; 460 Posts; 151,021 Profile Views

5 hours ago, Kitiger said:

May I put this out on face book?

 

Please do! Feel free to share. We want to help as many kids and their families as we can! Joy

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Hello fellow parents/ friends and colleagues; 

I am a mommy of 3 kiddos at home and feeling this stress! I deal with stress and anxiety before this happened. I am trying my very best to hold it together and not go crazy for them and my hubby. I feel he is taking the reins right now since I find myself sleeping in more and staying up late to avoid things. I feel if I distance myself I snap less over things I know I wouldn't normally be bothered by. Being stuck inside with all 5 of us 24/7 and all the loud yelling and fighting between kids is making my brain hurt. I'm sure the kids are unhappy also. I get migraines easy and they have been almost daily. I also went back to school to further my nursing career and juggle my own hw and the kids work at the same time. Teaching kids online is harder than my own work load which is a lot. My youngest in kinder so everything I have to do with him as he doesn't read well and is AdHd and ODD on top of that. If he is having a good day he may do the work and focus. But most days he doesn't want to do it at all and it's melt down city. Not just over school but eating and bedtime or no more games etc. My middle is my easy kid normally, but lately even she is at her limits. Then my older one is 14 and a typical teen with attitude and a girl and all that goes with that. Then box them all together and it's chaos 24/7. I am also not working due to covid19 bc my job had to shut down under the lock down protocol. So another stress to deal with. I'm on my on my 4th ADHD med for my son. I don't find it working great. The doctor keeps changing it. His psychiatrist isn't working with patients right now except over telemedicine and he is to young to make that work. So it's me dealing with him and when he gets bad, it's pretty bad. I am hoping the opening up of stuff is very soon as I need at least the doctors to start seeing patients again outside of ER and general medicine. I can deal with a lot, but I'm at my limits lately. I have no other family so that's not an option. I don't want to pull from the DNP program as I worked so hard to get in but I am already falling behind in class trying to keep the kids on track in their studies. My oldest starts high school this fall if school opens up and I definitely don't want her unprepared for that. Then to boot learning the new APA version 7 format for every paper has me confused and overwhelmed. Is anyone in my shoes or close? Does anyone have suggestions to help organize a schedule to get all that needs to be done in a day done. School, kids and myself and house chores without literally losing my mind. I see others with immaculate houses and kids all sorted and organized and seems like it's so easy as here I am and I have laundry piled up and so much to do and no spare time. What am I doing wrong here????

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jeastridge is a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 114 Articles; 460 Posts; 151,021 Profile Views

Thank you for sharing. I am sorry that you are going through such a hard time. While COVID-19 is hard for everyone it sounds like it has hit your family extra hard. Is it possible that you can find someone just for you to talk with? It might help to unburden a bit with a professional. All the best to you--prayers that this difficult situation is resolved soon.Joy

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