Mental Health Tips for Parents, Families, Children During School/Child Care Closings

By: Hilary Adams, Ph.D. of Golden Hour Therapy (offering therapy and teletherapy in California)

In this unprecedented time of crisis, families are being called on to provide 24/7 care, structure, and education (however we can muster that!) for our children.  For most of us, the feat present unusual challenges and extraordinary stress, along with occasional bursts of joy. To guide you in this process, we’ve gathered a list of science-based suggestions.  Most importantly, we advise you to give yourself a pass for things being imperfect as we sacrifice for a greater good. 


  • You must be well to take care of your children well – although there seem to be many barriers, it is critical that you engage in self-care activities at least once per day to lower stress. 


  • It’s important that your child fully realizes that YOU are in charge in this temporary “new normal.” Kids actually like and benefit from parents setting limits. It gives them structure and teaches them what to do and what not to do.
  • It will be easier to start rules at the beginning of this period than trying to implement them later.
  • Having a few choices throughout the day helps your child feel in control of their world.


  • If you can, designate a space for each person in the house to do their work and have time apart. 
  • Make that space comfortable and fun. Figure out if there is a way to add or remove a “cue” or “signal” that it is work versus play time.


  • Structure your children’s and your own day. This will give the household a sense of normalcy.
  • Incorporate fun and work – virtual social activities will keep the monotony at bay.
  • Use a visual – written or pictures – and provide easy access for your children to reference.


  • Good sleep 🡪 better concentration and mood.
  • Preserve sleep schedules and “cues” for sleep, such as the bed and wearing pajamas. No working on your bed and change out of sleepwear for daytime.


  • This is NORMAL. Validate feelings, express your own worries (but reel it in and save it for an adult audience if it’s extreme). 
  • Use relaxation techniques (diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness) and self-care time to decrease anxiety.
  • Limit your and your child’s consumption of unnecessary information about current affairs.


  • Replace scary automatic thoughts with more reasonable ones, like “This is hard, but I can get through it,” and, “I know what to do if my family members get sick.”
  • Think about the good aspects of this situation and share them with your kids.


  • It’s reasonable to have a lot of feelings. It’s not helpful to ignore them or push them away.
  • Be compassionate with your kids and yourself. 
  • Work as a team and be kind!



Information from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Social Story by Dr. Hilary Adams (daycare to 2nd grade target audience)

Cartoon for older children

Tips from American Psychological Association

Los Angeles-Specific Resources


Evidence-based sleep information

Listen to a podcast

Virtually tour a museum

Watch opera

Resources for Kid Activities

Huge spreadsheet of online resources

Scholastic’s free resource with 20 days of activities

Table topics for family dinner

or purchase here

General Preparedness Tips


Web-Based Visual Timers

Printable Daily Schedule or Here

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