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How Parents Can Help Kids with the Stress of COVID-19

As we settle into 2021, we have a great opportunity to pause and reflect on what we have experienced in the final months of last year. We started 2020 with certain hopes, plans, and expectations, many of which were altered or wiped out due to COVID-19. This has caused immense amounts of stress, especially for families. It’s one thing for an individual to carry the weight of these unexpected changes and disappointments. It gets messier when several people are involved, all feeling stress in different ways.

Putting together a memory book is a great option to slow down and reflect on the past year. The good, the bad, the stressful, the funny can all be remembered. Options for a memory book can include a scrapbook, a storybook, or if you’re really ambitious, you could get creative with something like a comic book to tell the story of the year. Whatever form you choose, this activity facilitates reflection where all the voices and perspectives of your family can be heard and valued. Being heard and feeling connected to loved ones relieves stress and promotes resilience for future stressors. During an activity like this, it’s important to intentionally listen to and reflect what your child shares, being careful to catch any reactions or responses that might dismiss or deny your child’s experience.

Below are questions you can ask your kids to help generate ideas and conversation about what you’d like to include in a memory book:

  1. What do you want to remember about the past year?
  2. How would you describe the past year? You can use a color, an animal, a kind of weather or a feeling to describe it. Consider having everyone (adults included!) try to draw a picture that portrays what this year has felt like
  3. What was disappointing about the past year? Were there times you felt sad? Scared?
  4. What are you thankful for in the past year? What were things that were fun and brought you joy?
  5. How would you explain this past year to other kids if they hadn’t lived through it, and they were asking you what it was like?

Whether you use paper, markers, and tape on hand to throw a book together, or want to go all out with crafting supplies, use reflection time to compile pictures, drawings, and memories from everyone in your family. If each voice has a lot to be heard, consider compiling a memory book per person that all comes together as a series.

Other Resources:

This book is a great read for any age, combining evidenced based research with helpful applications for how to engage children across developmental stages.

This book was written by a woman who specializes in helping children process distressing experiences. It’s specifically related to COVID-19 and is available online as a free PDF.