No matter what their age, your children will be looking to you for information about the coronavirus. Here are some age-appropriate suggestions and resources you can use to help your children feel safer and more secure during these uncertain times.
For young children, ages 3 to 7
Structure and routine are very important to this age group. With daycare closed and school likely online, children will benefit from as much structure as possible.
- Create a chart with a regular schedule for school time, playtime, meals and family time.
- Limit news programs and internet media that can be upsetting to children.
- Create opportunities for reading, arts and crafts, board games and family movies that soothe and calm.
- Ask before you share. Let children tell you what they know about the new virus and then you will be able to correct misinformation and add advice where it is needed.
- Search for children’s programs and literature that address germs and how we deal with them.
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital’s “COVID-19 Activity Booklet” with age-appropriate info and activities
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood:
"Daniel Gets a Cold / Mom Tiger is Sick" (FULL EPISODE)
"Rest is Best" Strategy Song (VIDEO)
Germs Germs Go Away With Handwashing (VIDEO)
A Germ-Fighting Superhero (VIDEO)
In My Bathroom Game
Play at Home with Daniel Tiger App
Daniel Tiger for Parents App
Doctor Daniel Game
Additional PBS Kids resources:
Curious George: The Man With the Yellow Hat Explains How Germs Work (VIDEO)
ABC Scrub With Me! Activity
For school-age children, ages 7 to 11
- Take your cues from your child. They already have opinions and possibly fears about what the virus means for them and their family.
- Read up on ways to provide age-appropriate information. Try a website like “KIDSHEALTH.ORG” for ways to explain a virus. Talk about symptoms and reassure your child that you are being very careful about hygiene, health and safety.
- Ask them what they have learned in school about the coronavirus. Ask them what they have overheard from adults. Then ask them what their friends have told them. Compare the information and ask them what they think is true. Correct exaggerations or misinformation.
- Limit news shows and internet media that can be upsetting to children. Remember, even if they are not actively watching, they may still overhear the news, even from another room.
- Encourage children to not listen to social media and to come to you or a trusted adult like a teacher with their questions.
- Children may worry that family members, especially you, will get sick. Tell them what you are doing for yourself and for them to stay healthy and well.
- Create opportunities for arts and crafts, family game time, baking cookies, fun movies with popcorn and other activities to structure the long days at home.
Preteens and teens, ages 12 and up
- Take your cues from your child. They already have opinions and possibly fears about what the virus means for them and their family. If you also have younger children, enlist your older kids in explaining and helping to keep younger kids calm. Reassure them by talking about your own efforts to stay safe and healthy.
- Provide age-appropriate information. Visit websites such as KIDSHEALTH.ORG, which has a section just for teens, or CDC.GOV with your older child to get reliable information.
- Ask your children what they have learned in school, from adults and from the media about the coronavirus. Then ask them what their friends have told them. Compare the information and ask them what they think is true. Correct exaggerations or misinformation. Ask for their help with younger siblings and peers.
- Older kids need contact with peers. If this contact is online, ask them to be “keepers of the truth” and help correct misinformation that peers may be sharing.
- Reinforce proper handwashing techniques and hygiene practices. Remind them that germs can sit on plastic surfaces, like video game controllers, for several hours or days. These surfaces should be wiped down with a disinfectant.
- Ask older kids to help model the right behaviors (social distancing, washing hands for 20 seconds…) to set a good example for younger siblings and peers.
- Older kids also need their families. Encourage them to participate in family activities, such as games, movies and projects.
- Encourage them to bring their fears and questions to you and not to trust everything they read on the computer or hear from others.
For the entire family
Worrying about how to put food on the table during COVID-19? Whether you're a resident of Suffolk County or Nassau County, this comprehensive list of food assistance resources can help give your family peace of mind and while meeting their nutritional needs. Compiled by Jeana Piliere, Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Class of 2020, Stony Brook University, the list utilizes resources gathered from LI Harvest, Long Island Cares, 211 Long Island and Stony Brook Psychiatric Associates Winter Resources List.