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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

How to Help Your Kids Mental Well-Being in the Time of COVID-19

photo of an empty classroom
Coronavirus has disrupted the normal routines of everyone, including children, and many kids are missing the routine and the connections school provides.

These are stressful times for all of us, and it’s not just our physical health that we need to be concerned about. Everything that we’re dealing with related to coronavirus and COVID-19 can take a real toll on our mental and emotional health.


Kids are not immune to these stresses. Dr. Tara Tozzi is a clinical psychologist with Mind Care Ohio. She specializes in working with kids with a wide range of issues. We spoke with her about the impact it’s having on her patients.




Coronavirus and kids concerns

Tozzi says the coronavirus crisis is having a significant impact on the patients she sees, but in ways she would not have expected. What she’s picked up from kids of all ages is they really miss school. They miss having the structure and schedule, being productive and having a sense of purpose. She says they miss their friends and teachers, and they actually worry that online education may affect their ability to learn. They want more video instruction and more interaction. As much as you might think they would welcome a vacation, Tozzi says they actually want the normal routine, the day-to-day.


She works with patients who range in ages  4 to 22. She says the reactions have been somewhat similar. They are "more concerned with the direct impact on their personal experience in their daily lives than with the virus itself. So, more concerned about their education, their ability to socialize, their ability to play, their ability to achieve their developmental tasks that they are genetically designed to be focused on at this juncture in their life."



Advice to parents?

First and foremost, Tozzi advised parents to be honest but adapt their language depending on the age and intellectual ability of the child. She says ask your kids what they’re thinking and what they’re fearing and remember it's OK to say you don't know. 


She also advises for both parents and children to choose the media they consume carefully. For kids, that includes directing them to kid-friendly news outlets.


Above all, Tozzi urges parents to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Schedules are important, including designating time for both work and play.


Too honest?

Tozzi says you can be too honest, but if you have concerns about addressing a question raised by your child, postpone the conversation temporarily. Take the time to consult with your partner, your spouse or other adults and develop a game plan. She says it’s OK to delay a conversation so you can be better prepared for it.


Dr. Tara Tozzi is a clinical psychologist with Mind Care Ohio in Hudson. She specializes in working with kids with a wide range of issues.

Andrew Meyer is the Deputy Editor of News at Ideastream Public Media.