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Self-care for Children After a Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has made navigating through daily life very stressful for people of all ages. Strong emotions such as fear and anxiety can arise from the uncertainty surrounding what could happen with this new disease and can be overwhelming for adults and children. Children particularly model the behaviors from adults around them and when caregivers or parents react in a calm and confident manner regarding COVID-19, they can provide a great deal of support for their children.

It is important to know that everyone reacts to stressful times differently. How adults respond to COVID-19 may depend on many different factors such as one's financial situation, one's social support, one's physical and emotional health, where one lives, and many others. The purpose of social distancing can be difficult and confusing for children but talking to them about the facts we know right now can help them make sense of what they are seeing and hearing and can help to minimize fear and anxiety they may be experiencing.

The CDC has outlined tips for talking with children about the coronavirus disease. To check out these tips click here.


In the aftermath of a significant event, there can be many effects that arise in children weeks to months after the event has passed. It is normal to experience a stress response following significant events. Below are possible impacts different age groups may experience following crisis events:

Impacts in Infants and Toddlers

  • Sleep and appetite changes

  • Increased hyper or violent play

  • Increased tantrums, yelling or crying

  • Missing people they are no longer able to see

Impacts in Preschool-Age Children

  • Confusion about the crisis

  • Difficulty expressing what is bothering them

  • Unusual quietness or agitation

  • Confusion about illness and death

Impacts in School-Age Children

  • Unusually aggressive or restless behavior

  • Confusion about the crisis

  • Closely watching parents' responses

Impacts in Adolescents

  • Self-consciousness about fears and vulnerabilities

  • Concern and worry for others

  • Radical changes in attitudes (anger, frustration, etc.)


When parents are prepared, they are better able to reassure their children and people around them. When parents cope with stress in a positive and healthy way, they can make themselves, their children and community stronger as a whole. Below are some parent responses and strategies to help children cope:

  • Reassuring safety to your child

  • Having a structured routine

  • Eating healthy and making meal times fun or relaxing

  • Helping your child stay in touch with relatives and friends

  • Providing calming activities or play materials to help them express themselves

  • Giving clear, age-appropriate explanations of what is happening and what to expect

  • Reminding children that anger and fear are common responses to a crisis

The CDC has outlined tips for parents to help their children cope with the coronavirus disease. To check out these tips click here.

The CDC also offers many mental health resources for parents and how they can better cope with stress during COVID-19. For more resources and information from the CDC, click here.


When to Seek Help

A stress response to significant events does not mean a child is suffering from a mental illness. Each individual and community is impacted in some way from significant events and adjust in their own time. Please know that there are services to help.

  • Thoughts that create distress about the event that interrupts daily life

  • Social withdrawal even after it is safe to connect

  • Loss of interest in usually fun activities

  • Persistent worry and anxiety that seems unmanageable


Our services are focused on offering mind and body healing from difficult events and circumstances. We are here for you.

For more information on what we offer, please visit our website at or call us at 412-578-9700.

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