Mental Health Tips for Families During School/Childcare Closings

By Hilary Adams, Ph.D.
10 min read

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. 

SELF-CARE

  • 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. 

SET LIMITS (BUT OFFER CHOICES)

  • 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.

TAKE SOME SPACE

  • 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.

STAY ON A SCHEDULE

  • Structure your children’s and your own day. This routine 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.

SLEEP

  • 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.

FEELING ANXIOUS

  • 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.

THOUGHTS ARE POWERFUL

  • 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.

CLOSING POINTS

  • 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!

Covid-19-Specific Online Resources
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

Self-Care Online 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
Visit LoveRavayna.com
Schedules/Timers
Web-Based Visual Timers
Printable Daily Schedule or Here


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Hilary Adams, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in downtown Los Angeles. She uses evidence-based practices with compassion and creativity to help children to young adults and their families improve their lives. She earned her BS in psychology at Tulane University, then her PhD in clinical psychology at Louisiana State University. Her internship and post-doctoral experiences took place at children’s hospitals, and she is currently affiliated with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for a telehealth project as an autism expert. Her areas of expertise are Autism Spectrum Disorder and anxiety, and she has extensive experience assessing and treating other mental health concerns in early childhood to young adulthood. You can learn more about her at www.DrHilaryAdams.com  and www.GoldenHourTherapy.com 

Coronavirus attacking your Mental Health? Check out the below BroglieBox articles:
How to Help Your Anxious Child Cope During COVID-19 Isolation
How to Transition to Seeing Your Therapist Online
5 Ways To Boost your Mood Creatively During Quarantine
How to manage your anxiety around the Coronavirus
Creative Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day 2020

The BroglieBox Quarantine Box (pictured above) is the perfect care-package to help optimize your mental health and aid in stress relief! Each box contains items in varying categories like mindfulness, sleep, aromatherapy, gratitude, fitness, and more.

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