During this time of coronavirus, the “new normal” for many families includes a heightened level of stress. Some of the stress individuals and families are facing include fears of illness to financial challenges to new childcare and distance learning demands.
In fact, many parents and caregivers have lost their jobs, and stress levels keep rising. Making the situation worse some family supports that parents relies on, such as daycares, babysitters or home visitation programs, are often either shut down or functioning very differently. Many families may feel that they have no outlets to turn to for help.
Pattie Carroll, Human Development and Relationships educator for UW Madison Division of Extension Dodge County, reminds us that “during other periods of societal stress, such as economic recessions, most children were still in schools and receiving the benefits associated with attending, which some now lack. The uncertainty of the next academic school year is compounding the stress.”
Carroll also reports that during these periods of intense societal stress we frequently see increases in child abuse and neglect and domestic violence. Our current situation is unfortunately appearing to show these increases as well. Carroll recently attended a meeting with the Executive Director of Renewal Unlimited, Suzanne Hoppe, and Hoppe said she has seen a 42% increase in reports from those experiencing domestic violence at Hope House.
Here are some tips to help ease the stress according to the Center for Disease Control.
Ways to support your child.
- Talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.
- Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn from you how to cope with stress.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines, especially in the summer. Create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.
- Spending time with your child in meaningful activities, reading together, exercising, playing board games.
As a parent, be sure to take care of yourself.
- Eat healthy meals, stay active with plenty of exercise and get enough sleep.
- Limit your own consumption of news related to the pandemic, and make sure it comes from reputable sources. Check out UW Madison Division of Extension’s COVID resources here.
- Stay connected with family and friends through emails, text messages, phone calls and video chats. Support networks are especially important during stressful times and can help you maintain a positive outlook.
- Share your feelings with trusted family, friends, faith leaders and professional counselors. This often provides significant relief for immediate stress, as well as helps you manage stress long-term. It may also be a productive way to get help with childcare and other resources.
Remember · It’s OK to ask for help. If you are feeling distressed, call the National Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990) for emotional support, or call 2-1-1 and ask about your county’s emotional support hotline.
If you need medical care or advice, stay home and call your doctor or clinic. If you have an emergency, call 911. If you become sick or feel unwell, make sure a family member or friend knows that you are unwell and ask them to check on you by phone or video chat every day.
All the Best,
Patricia Carroll | UW-Madison, Division of Extension
Associate Professor, Dept of Family Development
Human Development & Relationships Educator, Dodge County