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Advice for ID Parents on Coping with Coronavirus

To soothe their worries, parents can accurately tell their children they're going to be safe from COVID-19. (and.one/Adobe Stock)
To soothe their worries, parents can accurately tell their children they're going to be safe from COVID-19. (and.one/Adobe Stock)
March 20, 2020

BOISE, Idaho - The outbreak of COVID-19 has created uncertain times, which can be especially scary for kids. A doctor has advice for parents during this health crisis.

Robert Sege is a pediatrician at Tufts Medical Center's Floating Hospital for Children, and was scheduled to speak at a conference this week - sponsored by the Idaho Children's Trust Fund - before the event was cancelled.

Sege says parents can start by asking their kids what they know about the virus, noting they'll most likely respond with worries and misinformation. They'll also be concerned about their parents' health.

"Parents can very accurately say they're going to be safe and their children are going to be safe," says Sege. "And all of the restrictions that we're doing are because we're part of a large society and we want to keep everybody safe. And children can really get that."

To combat misinformation, Sege says it's important for parents to be well-informed.

Sege says next, parents need to set up their lives for the new restrictions.

Many Idaho kids are out of school and missing valuable meals. Parents, too, could be out of work.

Sege says families shouldn't feel any shame for taking advantage of local food assistance. He also emphasizes that they shouldn't stay cooped up inside, unless local restrictions apply.

Being outdoors is important for kids. And for older children, he says, it's important to maintain social connections.

"Teenagers may be able to set up video groups to talk to each other and be with each other," says Sege. "Parents should encourage that - of course, monitoring for things like bullying. But remember that this is very stressful for the kids, whose lives have been turned over."

Sege reminds parents not to forget about older adults, who may be dealing with more extreme social distancing measures. One activity for kids could be writing cards to grandma or grandpa.

Parents' health is key to all this as well. Sege says if it's safe to have kids stay at a friend's house for a playdate, this can free up time for adults to run errands, exercise or care for their mental health in other ways.

"We know that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint," says Sege. "So, being able to do something for one day or even a week is important, but setting up routines that enable us to keep our households going is also important."

Disclosure: Idaho Children's Trust Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Family/Father Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID