Helping Children Cope
1. Watch for behavior changes in your child
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:
Excessive crying or irritation in younger children.
Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting).
Excessive worry or sadness.
Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits.
Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens.
Poor school performance or avoiding school.
Difficulties with attention and concentration.
Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past.
Unexplained headaches or body pain.
Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
2. 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. If schools are closed, 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.
3. Take care of your mental health
You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.
Get immediate help in a crisis
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat
The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructions
Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255
Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
Treatment Services Locator Website
Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers
Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases