Resources for Children and Families

We are facing an unprecedented time with COVID-19. Many families are experiencing economic stress, unemployment, housing insecurity, and an exacerbation of mental health issues. With social distancing and school closures, we have lost some of the safety nets for children at risk for abuse and neglect, including schools and daycare centers. The Center for Safe and Healthy Children is concerned that there will be an increase in the rates of child abuse and neglect and is committed to providing families and providers with supportive resources during this time.

Encourage caregivers to use the following 3 Rs:

· Reassuring: Children look to adults to feel safe. During this difficult time, caregivers should model calm and provide reassurance that children are safe. This can be done with our words (“You are safe”) and with our behavior (affection).

· Restoring Routine: Children (and adults) need routine in order to feel safe. Caregivers should put a new routine into place for their children and try their best to follow it on a daily basis. This routine should include positive interactions with loved ones.

· Regulating: Children often need help regulating their emotions. Caregivers should help children develop language for their emotions and develop calming techniques.

Additional tips for caregivers:

· Remember that we are not perfect– it’s okay to feel frustrated with your children right now.

· Remember to give your children some slack right now – children are also trying to adjust to all of the changes and uncertainty.

· Check in on your own mental health as a caregiver – take time for yourself. Give yourself permission to take a time out in another room.

· When feeling overwhelmed, try some breathing exercises – breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds.

· Remember that a crying infant or toddler can be placed in a crib or pack-n-play.

· Contact a friend or relative to talk – make a connection with others – share your feelings and frustrations.

· Take a walk outside if you can.

· Take care of yourself by eating healthy, getting sleep and exercise.

· Try meditation or mindfulness activities online or through Apps.

· Keep your children physically active – schedule physical play inside or go outside for a walk.

· Read books and play games with your children.

· Make a daily schedule for your children. Consistent daily routines help children (and adults) feel grounded and less anxious.

· Check in with your children when they are frustrated, sad, angry. Tell them it’s okay to feel scared or worried, but reassure them that they are safe.

Helpful links:

Coronavirus, Traumatic Stress, Mindfulness

Printable Version

“2019 Novel Coronavirus”

American Academy of Pediatrics: guidance for families

“Coronavirus Resources & Tips for Parents, Children & Others”

Prevent Child Abuse America

“Coronavirus Sanity Guide”

Ten Percent Happier – meditations, podcasts, blogposts

“Coping with Stress”

US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC):

“Helping Children Cope with Emergencies”

US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC):

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with COVID-19

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network:

Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus

National Public Radio:

Talking to Teens & Tweens about Coronavirus

The New York Times:

Tools for Traumatic Experiences (children)

Sesame Street – coping strategies, breathing, activities

‘Belly Breathe’ with Elmo

Sesame Street

Sesame Street In Communities – Big Bird’s Cozy nest

Traumatic experiences are a big deal…but Big Bird’s got a big spirit, a big heart, and big dreams. That’s why he’s the perfect bird to teach kids (and grown-ups too!) how to imagine the important coping strategy of creating their own safe place inside. Use this storybook, video, digital interactive, and coloring page to help kids learn the strategy themselves.

Apps to download:

Mindfulness Apps for Kids:

· Breathe, Think, Do Sesame (useful for kids ages 2-5)

App Store | Google Play Store

· Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids (fun and easy way for kids to identify and process their emotions)

App Store | Google Play Store

· Breathing Bubbles (helps kids practice releasing worries and focus on good feelings)

App Store | Google Play Store

· Super Stretch Yoga (teaches yoga and breathing techniques to kids)

App Store | Google Play Store

· Relax Melodies (listen to over 52 different relaxing sounds)

App Store | Google Play Store

· Mood Monster's Yoga Workshop (pick your mood and do some yoga)

App Store

Dr. Nancy Harper talks with FOX 9 Morning News

Dr. Nancy S. Harper, Director of the Otto Bremer Trust Center for Safe and Healthy Children, talks with FOX 9 to address the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on mental health.