It’s back: the COVID-19 surge, that is. With it come the tests, the quarantines, the school closures, distance from family and friends, canceled events, and so much more. The stress is hard for parents, and hard for kids. What’s a parent or caregiver to do, especially when their kids have a background of attachment and trauma issues? COVID-19 surges just seem to make these worse. While a panacea curem for the pandemic and its effects would be nice, the recent wave proves that there is not one. What there are, though, are some tried and true techniques that can hopefully help families ride out the waves:
- Reinforcing safety and security: Kids from hard places need constant reminders that parents and caregivers will feed and clothe them and attend to their needs. Food sources may need to change slightly as shortages loom, but parents can remind kids that there is still food to be had. Parents might consider increasing awareness of food availability by doing things like having kids unload and stock cupboards (even if it is with different types of food) and/or increasing access to food (such as setting out a fruit bowl or another food store in plain sight.)
- Maintaining connection: Quarantines may force isolation from family and friends. This does not necessarily require disconnection, however. For example, If a child must quarantine from family at home due to illness parents and caregivers can still talk to the child and give affection, albeit from a distance. Parents could consider video chats, note writing, and other ways to stay in touch while the child recovers. Similarly, parents can be extra intentional to maintain outside ties with vulnerable individuals such as grandparents whom children might not be as able to see as frequently. Technology has its downsides, but it has proved a resource in the time of COVID-19.
- Anticipate behaviors: Parents don’t need to be pessimists to be aware that changes in the world can increase behaviors in their children. When parents prepare for these instead of acting surprised, they can remain calm and regulated. This goes a long way in helping children feel safe. Over time, the co-regulation of the parent can increase the children’s regulation.
Is dealing with another COVID-19 surge and its effects easy? No. Most of the world would prefer that COVID-19 be gone. Yesterday would be a preferable timeline. For now, COVID-19 is here to stay. The best parents and caregivers can do is be ready to do the same things over and over again to help kids feel safe, loved, and cared for.