Supporting Families during COVID-19

Maintaining mental health, wellness and parenting during coronavirus. 

It’s a big task for parents to balance work, childcare, self-care and all the worries related to this pandemic.

  • Children are home from school and daycare, one or more parents at home from work, facing temporary layoff and uncertainty. 
  • It’s a lot of pressure at this time, but it doesn’t mean we need to fall apart, you can help keep things in line while staying healthy and helping your children feel safe and secure. 
  • In fact this crisis can help to draw you closer together as a family.
  • Establish a daily routine and work through your list by checking off things as you go on.


Here are some tips to help you and your family get through the trying times.

Getting and staying active

  • Despite all of the restrictions of social and physical distance parents you can encourage family activities together instead of children and teens spending time only on cell phones, social media and TV, you can get active.
  • Regular exercise helps children regulate their emotions and behaviour. You can do yoga or aerobic at home.
  • Run up and down stairs if you have some at home.
  • Put on favourite music and have a party among yourselves.
  • You can go outside for a short brisk walk or run while keeping social, physical distance and following local guidelines.
  • Regular exercise is good for muscle, cardiovascular and will strengthen immune system, enhance emotional mental health in helping to regulate mood, quality of sleep reduce stress level, help you concentrate better and add to your family resilience. 
  • Watch family film, cook comfort foods, try baking nutritious recipes that boost your immunity. 
  • If you have pets like a cat or dog you and your children could take turns cuddling them. Studies show that bonding with pets especially at emotionally trying times boosts oxytocin levels which provides many health benefits such as decreasing blood pressure and heart rate to boost immune suctions and raise tolerant to pain, lower stress, anger and depression.


Exercise positive thinking

  • Have family discussions about your values and how each of you can be more emphatic and supportive towards one another, to extended relatives, friends and neighbours within the expected confines.
  • Take turns calling, checking in on elders and seeing how other families and friends are doing.
  • Families who are religious can seek this time together for prayers, scripture conversing and engaging in fun traditions.
  • Place value in small things like thankfulness in being together as a family.
  • It’s common to have catastrophic thinking of worse scenarios but this will make you panic and stressed so consciously tell yourself to STOP this and try to occupy your self with positive mindfulness thinking.
  • Be self-aware if you feel your mental health is declining then ask for help. Remember your mental health is just as important as your physical health and you are not as helpful to your children if you don’t take care of yourself.


Stay calm and mental health self care

  • Remember as parents if you show anxiety, hopelessness and stress, children will pick this up and soon exhibit these behaviours which are unproductive.
  • Model calmness and put things in perspective of the here and now, demonstrates problem solving skills. Manage your own anxiety kids take cues from parents.
  • Learn something new everyday, set aside time for self care, sleeping eating baths, facial treatment and anything that make you feel good.
  • Practice breathing exercise and relaxation stretches, while listening to favourite music.


Supporting children’s academic work at home

  • Some children may have school assignments on line, you can encourage them to complete.
  • Acknowledge that not everyone likes on line learning and the related challenges it has but at this time its important to try our best to make it work. 
  • For those without on line assignments, develop reasonable perspective on what they can accomplish academically. For elementary children encourage and read with them, put your arm around them while cuddling up to take turns reading.
  • Help them interpret and comprehend what they read by asking them to tell you what the message is/what the it is trying to convey.
  • Journaling can be a good idea in helping them improve essay writing skills and comprehension of what they read. Help them develop a mindset, different tools and assets for learning.


Special Needs

  • Children with special needs such as autism, ADHD or other learning difficulties, will find it more difficult to settle down with the abrupt changes and may be sensitive to the stress parents are experiencing. 
  • You can establish a new daily routine and stick to it by breaking down tasks into small steps and be repetitive and patient in helping them acclimate to these changes. 
  • Don’t worry too much about small non-compliant behaviour, pick and choose your battles , even if your child has to get up several times when working on a puzzle or colouring its ok as long as she/he continues to be engaged in  tasks.


Practice positive reinforcement  

  • Giving attention and praising the child, be sure to actively ignore certain misbehaviour especially if it does not place the child or others at risk.
  • Minimize conflict and in potentially escalating situations remember both you and your child can take a break-timeout and come back.
  • Use an enthusiastic tone to praise children on specific behaviours e.g. “I am really proud of you for figuring out how to do that.” Use positive reinforcement such as treats as a reward incentive to help them stay on tasks and get things done; rewards should be used sparingly.
  • With older children, give them more autonomy, check-in on work, ask them to let you know when they need help. Be supportive and give them attention.


Dealing with children’s boredom

  • Some children may complain of feeling bored , allow them to pick the activities they are interested in.
  • Let them move around the apartment or home to find different spots to work, everyone learns differently.
  • Help them develop a mindset of learning, help them become creative with academic work, e.g. if they get answers right you can give them an incentive for each correct answer, like doing jumping jacks together or something they enjoy, this will create excitement, hold their interest while getting physical activity done! 


 How to talk to children about Coronavirus 19 pandemic

  • As a parent, if you are feeling anxious take time to calm down before speaking to your children.
  • Remember that kids worry more if you hide information from them. For very young kids share basic direct facts, older kids can cope better with more details.
  • Share that coronavirus makes people sick; explain things in a few words be direct and honest. Let them ask you questions, and tell you everything they know and how they feel.
  • Sometimes children may get alarming misinformation from friends and certain media, listen and calmly correct information. You need to filter news to your kids with a goal to help them gain fact base information to reduce their anxiety. 
  • Try to reassure them about how rare this virus is, the flu is more common, tell them that this virus is quickly transmitted to others by touching surfaces which has the virus then touching eyes, nose or mouth without washing hands so we have to be careful.
  • Tell them some people can transmitted the virus even though they have no symptoms, that’s the reason for the incubation period which is between 14 days.
  • Although we still have a lot more to learn about this virus, we do know that people can catch it by someone coughing or touching surfaces.
  • Empower your kids on what to do to keep safe, such as spending more time together as a family, staying home to make sure we keep ourselves safe, although we would like to spend more time with people for now we have to limit our interaction with others to  prevent the spread of this virus. 
  • Be honest and clear, even if you can’t answer everything just being available to them is more important.
  • Tell them the purpose of staying home is to slow the spread of infection and reduce the number of people from getting sick.
  • Be practical about  safety measures and talk to children about washing their hands for 20 seconds as long as it takes to sing the Alphabet song, they would feel more in control. 
  • Engage children in helping to clean and disinfect areas such as frequently touched objects and surface like doorknobs, remote control, phones, computers, mobile devices as often as possible is a prevention measure for the virus as well as other viral respiratory illness.
  • Discuss why some people wear face mask and gloves , kids tend to worry more if you don’t talk about it.
  • Let them know people wear masks and gloves as extra protection, although experts says it is not necessary.

Our Seniors are Valuable lets take Special Care of them During this Corono-19 Pandemic

This global pandemic is a Public Health emergency and as the numbers of confirmed cases increased in Canada, US and around the world there are increase concerns about our elders who are most vulnerable, especially those with health issues. Here are some helpful practical tips to ensure safety for our elders.

  • Washing hands frequently: Children, grandchildren relatives and friends and elders must ensure to wash your hands frequently.
  • Drinking water: Make sure that elders have enough drinking water, it helps maintain a strong immune system so constantly remind elders to drink water.
  • Medication supply: Given the uncertainty and closure of places it is good to stock up on medications to avoid running out, you can get doctors to approve 2-3 months of medication supply.
  • Store-up on basic items: Torch, hearing aid batteries, bandages, antacids, stool softeners etc., are items that are useful to keep in storage.
  • Cleaning home as often as possible: Disinfecting areas such as frequently touched objects and surface like doorknobs, remote control, phones, computers, mobile devices as often as possible is a prevention measure for the virus as well as other viral respiratory illness.
  • Social/physical distance: For seniors and other people at risk e.g., pregnant women, people with pre-existing conditions must avoid public transportation, and maintain distant contact with others.
  • Nutritious meals: Avoiding foods with a high sodium which affects kidneys and heart should be practice. Use foods rich in magnesium protein and healthy fats.
  • Keep close contact: Monitor seniors, talk to them often and find out about any new symptoms or concerns they are experiencing. Some seniors try to avoid being a burden to others and may be reluctant to talk about new symptoms. Seniors don’t be afraid to talk about it and caregivers be alert and vigilant to enquire.
  •  If seniors or family members have access to pets and they are not allergic, encourage and provide opportunities for seniors to cuddle the pet. Studies show that bonding with pets especially at emotionally trying times boosts oxytocin levels which provides many health benefits such as decreasing blood pressure and heart rate to boost immune functions and raise tolerant to pain, lower stress, anger and depression.
  • Symptoms: If seniors experience coughing fever, or shortness of breath it is important to get medical help immediately. Remember time is the essence for medical intervention to seniors.


For more information consult

– Québec Self-Care Guide to COVID-19: Family Information on COVID-19

– Québec Government’s Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs.

You may also consult the status of municipal sites and services in the Borough of LaSalle in relation to the COVID-19 situation: Borough LaSalle.

Stay tune for more helpful tips from LaSalle Multicultural Resource Center to help you get through these trying times keep safe!