For Families - Extended School Cancellation and Social Distancing continued

A father, big sister, and mother lean over the newest edition to their family.
Friday, March 27, 2020

Extended school cancellation and recommendations from Oregon Governor Kate Brown around social distancing can be stressful for families. Here are a few things you may want to know more about.

What else can I do?

Even though this is stressful, it is important to remember that resiliency can help children and adults thrive and recover from stressful events. Resilience is the ability to adapt and overcome stressful things, and important because it helps us deal with daily challenges that might otherwise feel overwhelming. 

Children are hearing about COVID-19 and you want to make sure they get reliable information from you. Here is how to talk about it.

1. Find Out What Children Already Know

Ask questions geared to their age level:

  • For older children, you might ask, "Have you heard people talking about COVID-19 (Coronavirus)? What are they saying?" 
  • For younger children, you could say, "Have you heard grownups talking about a new sickness or germs going around?" 

This gives you a chance to learn how much they know, and to find out if they are hearing the wrong information. Follow their lead. Some children may want to spend time talking. It is ok if they do not seem interested or do not ask many questions.

2. Offer Support and Honesty

Focus on helping children feel safe, but be truthful. Do not offer more detail than they are interested in. For example, if they ask about school closings, address their questions. But if the topic doesn't come up, there's no need to raise it.

  • If they ask about something and you do not know the answer, say so. Use the question as a chance to find out together. 
  • Speak calmly and reassuringly. Give children space to share their fears and support them through disappointments such as missing their friends and regular routine. Let them know they can always come to you for answers or to talk about what scares them.
  • Let them know that it is normal to feel stressed out at times. Everyone does. Recognizing these feelings and knowing that stressful times pass and life gets back to normal can help children build resilience.

3. Help Children Feel in Control

Give them specific things they can do to feel in control. Teach them that getting lots of sleep, and washing their hands well and often, can help them stay strong and well. Explain that regular hand washing also helps stop viruses from spreading to others. Be a good role model and let them see you washing your hands often.

4. Keep the Conversation Going

Keep checking in with children. Use talking about coronavirus as a way to help them identify things that are hard or challenging for them, how those things make them feel, and how you can support them.

Additional Resources

For parents or guardians who are struggling with schools and childcare closing, Crisis Text Line is a resource to text with a crisis counselor to get support during this difficult time. Their goal is to help support those who are taking care of their loved ones and feeling overwhelmed and stressed. To reach a crisis counselor, text OREGON to 741741.