Coping at home and talking to kids about COVID-19

Updated: Mar. 20, 2020 at 6:13 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Many families are struggling right now while trying to establish a new normal with kids or grandkids at home.

Plus they are possibly balancing work while serving as teachers with school closed.

Dr. Carole Sweicki, Executive Director of Dee Norton Children's Advocacy Center, says when it comes to explaining this pandemic to your kids, stick to the basics and acknowledge that it's scary.

"Share just the facts," Swiecicki said. "Explain, 'There's a sickness or illness going around that we really want to protect people from, so that's why we're staying home. There's a lot of people helping to make sure people who need to get to the hospital have a way to do that. So we're gonna be home for several days.' And ask their child what questions they have and how they're feeling."

For older kids, validate their frustration over canceled proms and graduations.

"What can we do to help you still feel connected to your classmates? Can you guys do a virtual dance party?" Swiecicki suggested.

Many people are also arranging child care they aren't use to.

Despite the rush, experts at Dee Norton say it's essential to ask about what training the caregiver has had and how they handle discipline. Most of all, follow your gut as a parent.

"Although people are looking around and somewhat scrambling, there are a lot of people available because schools are closed so a lot teachers that have background checks and CPR training might be available that otherwise wouldn't."

What about parents and grandparents who are home with kids and aren't used to that, and might be feeling isolated or easily frustrated?

"It's really important for caregivers to take care of themselves. Infuse routine into their day so you have predictability. It's good for kids- and it's also good from grown-ups to have predictability," Swiecicki said.

While the world is unsure right now, she suggests making home feel safe and calm.

Download apps and free trials to practice deep breathing and meditation as a family to help everyone cope.

For more tips for talking with your child about the current outbreak, click here.

According to Dee Norton's website, "In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center has made the following adjustments beginning tomorrow March 17 through March 31:

-Essential, scheduled, direct services will continue at the Downtown center located at 1061 King Street between 10 am- 3 pm Monday- Friday.-The East Cooper offices will be closed during this time.

We will continue to follow the situation closely and implement any necessary changes as advised by the CDC, FDA state, local and national guidelines."

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