Helping Kids Cope With Pandemic Life

Pic of boy sitting alone by a window in a mask who is dealing with quarantine sadness. See article for resources on how to help kids with covid issues.

2020 has been a challenging year for millions of families across the country as routines and lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The greatest disruption has been in the area of our social interactions. With social distancing and isolation requirements  to protect our health, have come a new set of issues and stresses for all, but especially for children.  

Children don’t always respond to stressful events in the same way as adults do. Often they are unable to articulate how they are feeling or pinpoint a cause. However, there are behavioral clues that can help parents and other adults know they are not managing to deal with stress well. Some of these are: 

  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
  • Lack of school interest or poor performance
  • Avoidance of school work, including simple tasks 
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past

Children sometimes learn ways to cope with stressful situations from cues they receive from their peers and adults in their lives. The social isolation required by this pandemic has not been easy, as children and all the adults around them have been greatly impacted by the uncertainties of COVID-19. It is therefore important for parents to first identify any issues and then help their children develop coping strategies that will enable their resilience in dealing with the challenges that covid will continue to create in our lives. 

The University of Colorado School of Medicine offers a number of tips to help support children. They include:  

  • Taking time to talk with your children about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand. It’s important to acknowledge their fears and concerns.
  • Reassure them that they are safe. Share with them how you deal with your own stresses so that they can learn from your own coping mechanisms and can approach you when they are concerned or fearful.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage about COVID-19. Children may misinterpret what they see or hear and may get frightened about something they don’t understand.
  • Make sure you create and maintain a sense of structure and routine, which often provides comfort to children. 
  • Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your own friends and family members virtually so they can learn to use technology for peer and family support.

We have listed below some additional resources you might find helpful in supporting your children during this time: 

For more resources related to children, teens and homeschooling during this pandemic, please visit our CORONAVIRUS COVID19 RESOURCES page.

Helping Teens During COVID

Are your teens being challenged by COVID19 restrictions? Do you find your teens exhibiting unusual behavior or find they are just being different since the pandemic began?

Adolescence is not only a time of great physical change in a young person’s life during normal times, it’s also a time when change is felt very deeply. During a pandemic, some changes can become overwhelming or additional forms of stress for these young adults.  Several sources of teen stress can include:

  • Changes in their appearance or body
  • School demands and frustrations
  • Negative feelings about themselves
  • Problems with peers at school
  • Separation or divorce of Parents
  • Illness or death of a loved one
  • Moving or changing schools
  • Family financial problems
  • Restricting favorite activities

Recognizing a change in your teen’s mood or behavior is the first step in being able to provide support to them. has a page on ways parents can identify changes in their teens, as well as suggestions on how to provide support to them, as well as how to enlist support from health professionals, such as your teen’s pediatrician.

The mental health professionals at Child Mind Institute offer tips and provide a list of resources for parenting teenagers (and young adults suddenly home from college) during the pandemic.

The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) has compiled a list of mental health resources on a wide variety of Teen Mental Health subjects, from addiction issues to strategies on parenting young adults in close quarters.

Last on our list are two organizations where parents can find guidance on how to support teens dealing with trauma or grief.  The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has created three separate guides for parents on how to help young adults cope with trauma, loss and grief. You can find all three guides on this page.

The mental and healthcare professionals at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have dedicated a section of their website for parents and caregivers who want to support teens through the various stages of grief. They provide support for this and many other topics on their Strong4Life website.

Additional resources can be accessed by teens directly through the links below: