On Your Side: How to talk to children about social distancing and ‘safer-at-home’ order

Coronavirus Resources

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Especially in the midst of a pandemic, adopting a new normal and adjusting to changes in everyday routines can be challenging.

For children, this new normal may lead to questions about why they’re not in school, unable to see friends in the same way.

Restrictions on gatherings, closing dining rooms in restaurants, and canceling school altogether are all ways leaders across the country hope to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Those concerns are valid, according to one clinical therapist. The best way to help a child and ourselves adapt to these changes is to give it time.

“Simple but honest answers. Children will create their own narratives, meaning they will seek to answer their own questions if they’re not given information from their caregivers,” said Shannon Dow, Clinical Director of Blount County Services for The Helen Ross McNabb Center.

Dow says informing children of the facts, while also considering what is age-appropriate can help children process and better understand the changes.

“We are grieving the loss of our daily routines, we are grieving the loss of being able to be with loved ones. It’s important as we go through this process, that we feel these emotions, that we go through these emotions. That, as parents, we allow space as children to experience those emotions,” said Dow.

Community Resources

The Helen Ross McNabb Center is one community resource for families who are looking for extra support.

Dow says although we are socially distant, help is within reach for anyone.

Children in dangerous home situations may not be in contact with teachers or other community leaders who are invested in their wellbeing. Dow says, it’s one reason why community support during this time is imperative.

“Unfortunately, that can lead to children experiencing abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. It’s essential that caregivers, family members, the community, continue to reach out and connect people with resources.” 

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month. The Helen Ross McNabb Center is utilizing social media to spread awareness of available resources.

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