Dr. Margi McCombs: Coronavirus trauma and kids – 4 suggestions to assist them navigate the pandemic

The ‘Fox & Associates First’ dad and mom panel reacts to New York Metropolis’s college shutdown.

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Most dad and mom had been relieved to find that youngsters usually don’t expertise the important thing bodily signs of COVID-19. However dwelling in a world affected by a pandemic continues to be impacting their well being.  

Research present that youngsters’s and adolescents’ psychological well being is struggling, made worse by digital education that has resumed this fall. The absence of their typical assist programs like exercise teams, buddy teams and in-school assets has remoted our youngsters and exacerbated this disaster.  

Many youngsters are additionally having emotions of loss, concern and helplessness. The trauma our children have skilled could cause sleep disturbances, anxiousness, melancholy, substance abuse, self-harm and aggressive behaviors.  


I’ve labored as a trainer, college founder, counselor and writer. Nonetheless, a few of my favourite titles are “mother” and “grandma.” I'm so obsessed with serving to youngsters efficiently navigate their early years. After we love the latest additions to our households, we are able to attempt to protect our children from all bother and unhappiness. However because the pandemic has proven, these are unavoidable realities of human life.  

One of the best ways we might help our children is by permitting them to course of their emotions and equipping them with instruments they'll use their total lives for dealing with trauma or disappointment. Listed here are 4 suggestions to assist our children stay resilient throughout this traumatic time:

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Have your little one title his or her emotions.  

The easy act of recognizing and naming trauma has been proven to set off the primary levels of restoration. However youngsters could not have phrases to explain how they really feel, and so they could even assume they're accountable for feeling that manner. For instance, throughout COVID-19, a toddler who's afraid could discover it troublesome to speak about it, as a result of she or he “seems like a child.”     

Assist them perceive that emotions are regular and non permanent. From there, a toddler can come to grasp how these emotions could also be inflicting her or him to behave out in sure methods. You'll be able to have your older little one journal about his or her emotions and have youthful youngsters draw their emotions. Be particular. For instance, you possibly can ask them what factor they've misplaced (like favourite actions, time with associates, and so on.) which have contributed to their emotions.  

One other concept is to create a household “Fear Field,” the place everybody can write down their worries and submit them anonymously; then discover an acceptable time to type by means of these worries collectively.  

Use actual tales.  

The disgrace and stigma of struggling impacts youngsters simply as a lot as adults. When youngsters understand they don't seem to be struggling alone – and that the emotions they're experiencing are regular and even widespread – it eases a whole lot of the emotional pressure of feeling “totally different” or “damaged.” I’ve seen youngsters completely remodeled by being included in conversations with different youngsters who share their identical emotions of loss and grief. Many good, supportive friendships are began this fashion!  

Small acts of kindness are one other solution to put your little one in management – encourage your little one to do one act of kindness for another person day-after-day.  

When speaking to youngsters about their emotions throughout this time, dad and mom ought to use concrete, real-world and private tales to emphasise the normalcy of these emotions. When youngsters can acknowledge that individuals they give the impression of being as much as additionally undergo from loneliness, they once more can really feel validated and understood.   

Give attention to issues they'll management.  

Many people are feeling helpless proper now. That is why routines are particularly essential: they scale back emotions of chaos and helplessness. Staying bodily energetic throughout this time is one thing youngsters can management. In trauma teams, we frequently speak about how taking good care of your physique has a confirmed impact in your religious, psychological and emotional well being. Make a reward chart to incentivize your little one to get exterior and do one thing bodily day-after-day.  

Small acts of kindness are one other solution to put your little one in management – encourage your little one to do one act of kindness for another person day-after-day.  

Train your little one to decelerate.  

Most kids are accustomed to being entertained many or all hours of the day. This could train them to depend on their circumstances and settings for consolation and stability. When consideration is continually being deferred, it can be arduous for youngsters to perform duties like naming their emotions or accepting uncomfortable sensations of loss or unhappiness.  

In my household, our religion is one thing we depend on for stability. So, instructing our youngsters to hope is a technique we accomplish serving to them be taught to decelerate. For different households, you possibly can strive instructing easy kid-friendly meditations or put aside time for self-reflection.  

It’s essential, nonetheless, in moments of self-focused care like these, that we additionally take time to ponder what challenges others are going through, which helps put our personal struggles into perspective. After contemplating how others may be feeling, you possibly can encourage your youngsters to ship a card to elders in a nursing residence, your postman or well being care employees.  


Though I imagine the following tips are useful throughout age teams, it’s essential to acknowledge that youngsters could have totally different wants. Youngsters may have privateness to course of their emotions. They might additionally have to really feel helpful — doing issues that assist their household or others can remind them that they're priceless. 

As our nation’s households face uncertainty, loss and missed expectations amid the pandemic – all of which may be heightened through the holidays – we have now a chance to be taught and develop collectively.  

Dr. Margi McCombs is the director of kids and teenage trauma therapeutic for the Trauma Therapeutic Institute at American Bible Society.  

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