Strategies for Parents with Young Children this School Year
The American Academy of Pediatrics has some tips on parenting in a pandemic. Find this
information and more at HealthyChildren.org:
• Address children’s fear as they rely on their parents for safety, both physically and
-Answer questions about the pandemic simply and as honestly as you can
-Recognize your child’s feelings
-Maintain relationships with loved ones through things like phone calls and video
chats when possible
-Model how to handle difficult feelings like stress or anxiety
-In a calm and reassuring manner, talk to your children on where you are going
when leaving the home
-Look forward to the future and instill hope that things will get better
-Make time for extra snuggles and signs of affection throughout the day
• Keep healthy routines to create a sense of order to the day:
-Structure the day with a scheduled morning routine and include a time for
chores, a time for breaks and a time for learning before wrapping up with some
fun family time and exercise (outdoors if it’s manageable) and then the usual
When work and school are part of the day, find physical space for each person to
be able to work effectively.
-List the times for learning, exercise, and breaks for that specific day. For
younger children, 20 minutes of class assignments followed by 10 minutes of
physical activity might work. Older children and teens may be able to focus for
longer periods before needing a break. Having a physical written-out schedule is
helpful for everyone in the house!
• Use positive discipline techniques, especially as younger children who can’t express
themselves with words tend to act out when they feel stressed, anxious or scared:
-Redirect bad behavior when it is due to boredom into something fun or a
change of scenery like going outside.
-Incorporate creative play in your day, which may mean getting a little messy
with arts and crafts like collages or homemade slime or even an indoor fort
-Praise and point out the good behavior that happens during the day
-Use privileges and rewards to help reinforce the good behavior
-Know when not to respond (as long as they aren’t doing something dangerous)
-Give a child a chance for a “re-do” – sometimes the first time may not have
come out the way we hoped (this goes for adults and children!), giving a child an
opportunity to re-phrase could avoid a bigger conflict
-Utilize time outs when needed- 1 minute per year of age is a helpful guide.
-Avoid physical punishment as it can increase aggression in children over time
and fails to teach them to behave or practice self-control. It can also interfere
with normal brain development.
• With all of this in mind, it is crucial that you are taking care of yourselves as best as you
can during this time. Try to eat healthily and incorporate exercise into your weekly
routine. Remember the importance of sleep as well. When needed, focus on your
breathing for a few minutes and take a step back (when your child is somewhere safe).
Watch the amount of time you are spending on social media and the news as well.
Cross, C. (2020, June 16). Working and Learning From Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak.
American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Working-and-Learning-from-Home-COVID-19.aspx
Parenting in a Pandemic: Tips to Keep the Calm at Home. (2020, June 24). American Academy of