5 ways to help your child adapt to a new normal


by Beth Bender, CCLS

Aug 17, 2020

Over the course of the last five months, our world has faced the challenges and changes brought on by COVID-19. There is no doubt that family units across the board have experienced shifts in their day-to-day routines, having no choice but to grow accustomed to life as we now know it. 

Each day, we ingest new information, guidelines and best practices regarding the virus in order to play our part in keeping ourselves, our children and our communities safe. As things continue to evolve, we know the coronavirus will most likely not be going away anytime soon — instead, we will have to adapt to an ongoing “new normal.”

As the caring adult in a child’s life, this can become stressful. Not to worry, here are 5 tips and tricks for you to follow as you engage them in this new normal. 

Related: How to help your kids cope with coronavirus changes

1. Limit media exposure 

A constant stream of new information comes out daily regarding COVID-19. Much of this information may be scary or confusing for your child or teen. Additionally, information posted and comments shared on social media could negatively impact your child’s mental health. 

Be sure to stay aware of the news and media content your child absorbs. Always be open to having a conversation with them regarding their questions or concerns about what they are hearing or seeing.

2. Ease into normalcy 

Restaurants, parks, churches and malls are just some of the numerous social settings that have begun to open up in many states around the country — but be sure to discuss if your children and teens are comfortable returning to these social settings and activities prior to visiting them. 

If you are trying to decide whether your child will return to in-person school, utilize an online option or go another educational route for the fall, make an effort to include them in these discussions to determine what they think would work best for them. 

Additionally, schools and colleges are in conversation about their approach for the upcoming school year, including sports and extracurricular activities. Your child may feel excited or scared about this. Remember to validate their feelings. 

Be proactive and talk about their school’s plan for opening back up and how social settings and activities may look different right now. It is imperative to prepare, if you are able, for any new changes or experiences they may encounter. 

3. Practice and teach all safety protocols 

It is important for your child to carry the safety measures they’ve learned at home into society. Continue to promote personal and communal safety such as hand washing, facemask etiquette and social distancing. 

Practice these safety measures daily. You can do this best by demonstrating how to engage in positive hygiene and infection prevention. Take the time to teach your child the five easy steps of proper handwashing: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry.

Related: How to make wearing a face mask fun for kids and teens

4. Open up the conversation 

Having open discussions with your child is a great way to facilitate trust, honesty and growth. Because things are changing daily, your child’s experience and reactions will most likely also change daily. 

Be ready to discuss your family’s approach to businesses and schools opening back up and how you will be engaging in this new normal together, as a family. Remember that your child might have friends whose families disagree — provide your child with the information and skills to be ready to engage in conversations with these friends in a positive manner. 

5. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too

You deserve it! Practicing self-care and the management of your own emotions is imperative as a caregiver and parent. Perhaps the best way for you to take care of your child during this time is to make sure you are taking care of yourself

This has been an extremely stressful time and it is important for you to recognize the challenges you have faced and overcome. Remember to take three deep breaths and remind yourself that you can handle this!

For more information on how to equip your children with strategies to cope with challenges, subscribe to our Scrubbing In newsletter. 

About the Author

Beth Bender, CCLS, is a child life specialist on staff at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's Medical Center.

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