Coronavirus Information for Parents and Guardians

All of us want to be the best parents we can be. Parenting during a pandemic is an entirely new experience for all of us, so:

  • Don't expect to be a perfect parent
  • It's natural to be scared
  • Try to be calm with your kids. They tend to be more influenced by what you feel than by what you say
  • Listen and talk to them
  • Answer their questions in an open and honest way geared to their age level
  • Limit their access to COVID news. It gives very little new information and tends to make us all feel more scared and helpless
  • Help them do something active to help their community. It's a great vaccine for feeling like a helpless victim
  • Try to keep your kids on a schedule. Kids thrive on knowing what to expect
  • Pay attention to changes in their behavior

Children and adolescents are not immune to fear, anxiety, and confusion caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Like all of us, the forced physical distancing can lead to feelings of loneliness, despair, boredom, and anger. It is normal, in fact adaptive, to have some level of anxiety about coronavirus, yet some children and teenagers may be struggling to cope. Most kids have some worries about getting sick and/or about their parents and grandparents getting sick.

Here are a few warning signs to look for:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs (teenagers)
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Lack of interest in activities that usually provide some pleasure
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or despair
  • Irritability, anger, frustration, and lashing out
  • Shirking responsibilities and neglecting homework

Coping with Physical Distancing, Isolation, and Quarantine

To mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, experts have advised physical distancing, isolation, and in some circumstances, quarantine. This can be especially hard for children and teenagers who are very focused on asserting their autonomy, growing up, and being close with their friends. Missing friends and classmates, playdates, birthday parties and other social functions may be much harder on them than it is on adults. Many lifecycle events, such as graduations and proms, have been canceled or postponed. And upcoming summer activities such as camp, sporting events, beach vacations may all be up in the air. Here are some resources to help your children cope:

Statement Regarding Returning to School

As fall approaches, much is uncertain about how and under what circumstances children will return to school. To the extent that practical information regarding what actions to take is available, this information serves to keep everybody safer and perhaps to counter some of the sense of helplessness that so many feel. Read here for  a framework regarding some of what we know about the dynamic development of children and parent-child relationships. Another resource is a recent post on our Psychology Today blog - "Should I Send My Child Back to School?"


If you have concerns about how you or your child is handling all of this, you are not alone. Click here to find a child analyst who can help you and your child or adolescent deal with all of this.  Teletherapy is a great option, given the circumstances, for starting therapy or continuing with your current therapy. Creating a new therapeutic relationship or continuing with your current analyst can help your kids find better ways to understand and deal with their concerns. The relationship is the most important ingredient in therapy and being able to create a new or maintain an ongoing relationship, especially in these difficult days, is extremely valuable.  

Of course, teletherapy is not the same as in-office therapy, and parents and children may have some concerns. For example, parents may think that starting or switching to teletherapy (connecting by phone or more usually through a video platform) is not a good option for their children. Certainly, teletherapy is not the same as an in-office visit. Some children will miss the physical presence of their therapist, the office environment, the therapist’s toys and games, and the special time spent with a parent ferrying the child to and from appointments. Some parents may feel like waiting to start treatment or stopping an ongoing treatment, but it is important to deal with problems early and to provide continuity of care. In fact, the setting of teletherapy may provide an opportunity to uncover issues that were hidden by the comfort and familiarity of the office setting and can jumpstart the child’s progress.   

Mental health providers and parents are doing their best to make the most out of this new, and incredibly challenging situation. To make a good transition to teletherapy, children and teens need their parents’ support.

More Articles for Parents:

"Virtual Learning is Difficult: But is it too much to handle?"

"COVID's Back to School Fears and Worries"

"Should I Send My Child Back to School?"

"How to Answer Your Child's Questions About the Pandemic"

"Resilience in the Age of COVID19: Parents Helping Children"

"How Parents Can Help Their Children During the Pandemic"

"Covid-19 Pandemic, Social Distancing, and Adolescence"

"Can I Be Both A Good Parent & A Good Professional During Covid-19"

"Has COVID Put An End to Helicopter Parenting?"


Additional Resources: