So far this year, coronavirus has altered almost every aspect of people’s lives — from work, to school and socializing. And that will likely include the holiday season as well, as the community continues to follow social distancing guidelines recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to curb the spread of the virus. This is especially important if a loved one is at increased risk for complications from COVID-19.
While the world continues to learn to adapt to life with coronavirus, the holidays are a special time for many families, and it can be hard when long-held traditions must change. As holiday planning begins, here are some ways to help the family cope with whatever the season brings.
TALK TO THEM Conversations with kids about the novel coronavirus — whether about the illness it causes, school or dorm closings, missed birthday parties or canceled summer plans — have probably already happened. However, try to remember that many kids look forward to the holidays all year, so although the child may have adapted to other changes, it could take them some time to accept that coronavirus will affect yet another tradition.
BE HONEST It can be hard to break the news that traveling to Grandma’s house this year, spending time with favorite cousins or visiting Santa at the mall won’t happen. But in these times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever for children to know that they can trust their parents and loved ones to tell the truth. It’s OK to not have all the answers, but share the current information known openly and honestly, in a way they can understand.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE Talk about the things the family can do for the holidays — and how everyone can feel gratitude for what they do have — even if it means it cannot be celebrated in the usual way. Let the children come up with some new ideas for holiday fun. And make a list of the family traditions to hold on to, such as cooking favorite meals, singing holiday songs, watching holiday movies or putting up decorations.
GIVE THEM SPACE FOR THEIR FEELINGS No matter their age, children may feel disappointed or angry when holiday plans change. Be empathetic — let them know that these feelings are normal, and that parents feel disappointed, too. It’s OK if they want to sulk for a day or two as they process their feelings.
TALK TO THEM AND BE PREPARED TO REPEAT YOURSELF Some children, especially young ones, may ask the same questions over and over. This may be a way for them to understand what’s happening and process things that are difficult.
BE AVAILABLE Be there for the kids for any questions or concerns they might have about coronavirus and how to keep it from spreading.
GO VIRTUAL For many of us, the holidays are the one time a year when we can count on seeing family and close friends. Due to the current state of the virus, try moving the celebration to the virtual world. With a little help from technology, spend some time and have a meal with the entire family, even if everyone is not in the same room or eating the exact same meal. It can still help the family feel connected — and it can be a fun way to share recipes.
Of course, a virtual celebration isn’t limited to dinner. Take this time to connect with family or friends virtually by playing games, watching movies, or sharing other holiday traditions and celebrations.
“It is important to keep a close eye on your child’s behavior in order to identify symptoms of possible depression and/or anxiety during this time. Symptoms may include acting withdrawn or angry, losing interest in their usual activities, tearfulness, and even bed wetting in a fully potty-trained child just to name a few,” said AdventHealth Medical Group Pediatric Hospitalist, Jaclyn Urquiola Sorzano. “Please consult with your pediatrician right away with any concerns to get them the help they may need.”
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